Educational Debt Incurred at Seminary

count.jpgI was reading the results from survey conducted by The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) this evening and was fascinated by some of the findings. The survey was conducted on graduating students from member schools of the ATS and included 5,113 graduates representing 130 member schools (so, yeah, a good sampling).

Over the next week I hope to post some of the stats that came out of the study. Don’t worry, I know we’re all busy seminarians, so I’ll break it down into bite sized nuggets.

Also, I’d like to say that this information I’ll post from this survey is pretty important to think through, especially if you are considering or just starting seminary. We have a chance to see and hear what people who are finishing this journey have to say… we’d be wise to listen.

Tonight’s post is on the stats concerning Educational Debt Incurred at Seminary. Out of the 5,113 graduating respondents, these are the percentages for the amount of educational debt they incurred while in seminary.

46.4% – None
11.1 % – Less than $10,000
13.2% – $10,000 to $19,999
9.9% – $20,000 to $29,999
7.6% – $30,000 to $39,999
11.7% – More than $40,000

Two observations:

  1. WOW! Almost 50% graduated with NO debt. THAT is great.
  2. WOW! Almost 20% graduated with $30,000 + in debt. THAT is not great.

With the average Senior Pastor salary paying about $37,000 for pastors fresh out of seminary… $30K in debt is a BIG deal. Now, I’m not throwing stones at anyone who has a loan or debt (I have some). But you must be aware that vocational ministry is not a lavish position. Incurring large amounts of debt in seminary will add a huge amount of stress to a very stressful job… and if you don’t think being a pastor is stressful… then go talk to one.

Written by
Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns is a past Marketing Manager at Faithlife and now works at Redemption Hill Church in Richmond, VA.

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Written by Ryan Burns