Endowment for Student Support
Supporting future leaders of the church
Supporting our students financially during their studies has always been a priority at Columbia Theological Seminary. Our efforts to secure adequate resources for that have intensified in recent years in response to the higher enrollment in the seminary's Master of Divinity (MDiv) program. In fact, over the past decade enrollment has grown from 138 students in 1996 to more than 180 students in each of the last four academic years.
We believe Columbia is growing because our faculty, our trustees, our staff, and our curriculum are aligned with the aspirations of those intrigued by the question of God's call and seeking to learn how to use their gifts for Christ's ministry. In a survey of the graduating classes from 1996-2006, 83 percent of MDiv graduates reported that they came to Columbia with the intention of pursuing a religious occupation. The fact that 82 percent of respondents are now ministers of the Word and Sacrament, and that 73 percent are working in a local congregation, confirms that Columbia is "on mission" and that its graduates are making good on the church's investment in them.
The cost to a student to pursue theological education can be substantial: for this year, depending on family circumstances, the cost of a year of theological education will range from $20,000 to over $29,000. This cost represents a significant hurdle for many students who must borrow significantly to finance their education. Then, upon graduation, pastors receive salaries that make it difficult for them to repay loans and live without constant financial concern.
Columbia Seminary is blessed with one of the strongest scholarship and financial aid programs in theological education today--covering 90%-95% of the cost for the average student! To retain its ability to attract the finest possible students with the greatest potential for leadership in the church, the seminary must continue to increase endowed resources and support those students. In addition, if the seminary is to increase enrollment, a significant increase in resources for student support is essential.