Monday, April 6, 2015

Why GPTS Tuition Is So Low

The founders and trustees of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary have always believed that men called to the ministry should not have to leave seminary with a mountain of debt. Therefore, our tuition is one-half to one-third less than other historically Presbyterian seminaries. Moreover, students who come from GPTS-supporting churches or Presbyteries often have their tuition waived.

A recent article in The Acton Institute’s “power blog” typifies the ungodly results of seeking to enter ministry with a massive debt burden. The article chronicles the experience of a student about to graduate from a prestigious liberal divinity school after amassing more than $100,000 in student debt. The student is quoted as arguing that society and the government need to subsidize his “calling” to the ministry. Article author Joe Carter responds, however,

“The main thing that needs to be said is that if you take out a loan to buy luxury goods (like expensive colleges) you have a moral obligation to repay it. It’s time we start expecting that all Americans—especially those who want to lead our churches— to start acting like adults instead of whiny, entitled children.

“There are many issues of economic and social justice that should be of concern for Christians. Paying back the student loans of middle-class snowflakes who feel ‘called’ to make bad decisions is not one of them.”

At GPTS, tuition currently costs $180 per credit hour. This makes the full cost of our 4-year M.Div. degree (124 credit hours) to be $22,300. This is only a fraction of the cost of comparable seminaries in North America. Our tuition is kept low because 70 percent of our operating costs are paid by sponsoring churches and individual donors.

The tuition charges and fees represent only a fraction of the cost of operating Greenville Seminary. Individuals, churches, and presbyteries that have chosen to underwrite the work of the Seminary provide most of the funding and support. Through their continued generosity, the cost of the education offered by Greenville Seminary is being kept to a minimum.

Levites leading worship
God established a Biblical pattern for the support of those who minister in His name. We see that principle demonstrated in the pattern of support for the Levites by the Israelites. This principle encourages the Seminary to ask that the churches and/or presbyteries that endorse men for the Gospel ministry support their candidates financially. In the light of this biblical principle and in order to foster a closer working relationship among the students, the sending bodies, and the Seminary, the Board of Trustees has determined that a student under care of a presbytery or session of the PCA, OPC, or any other approved denomination may have a full tuition waiver if:

  1. the sending church or presbytery supports the Seminary at the level of the student's actual tuition costs (approximately $5,000.00 per year for a full-time student); or
  2. the sending presbytery supports the Seminary at $1.50 per communicant member per year per student with the minimum of $1,500.00 per year per student; or
  3. the sending church supports the Seminary at $20.00 per communicant member per year per student with the minimum of $1000.00 per year per student (effective for new students enrolled on or after July 1, 2015).
Note: Students are expected to pay any portion of the tuition not so covered. Thus, if the Seminary receives one-half of the above amounts from a student's presbytery or congregation, he will be charged only one-half of his tuition. This will encourage sessions and presbyteries to take seriously their commitment to their candidates, and in turn the candidates will be encouraged by the support of their sessions and/or presbyteries. Students are responsible for all fees (including audit fees).

The Seminary requires the sending church/presbytery to support the Seminary for at least one year prior to a particular student's matriculation. Also, in order to help keep the cost of administrative, janitorial, and clerical help to a minimum, it requires students whose tuition is waived due to ecclesiastical support to work for the Seminary at least one hour per week for every three credit hours taken, not to exceed four hours/week. These work hours must be satisfied during the normal semester unless other arrangements are made.