Finances are often a major concern for students seeking to achieve a seminary education and prepare for ministry. That is why we offer scholarships and loan options.
Master of Divinity
In determining who will receive scholarships when pursuing an M.Div. at WTS, consideration is given to:
Academic achievement based on a weighted undergraduate GPA. These scholarships range from a 3.2 GPA award of $1500 to 3.8 GPA award of $3500 in our in-residence M.Div. program. Awards are also given in our distance learning M.Div. for outstanding academic undergraduate achievement. After one semester in the degree program, your GPA earned at WTS will be used in determining your scholarship.
Ecclesiastical endorsement of the Reformed Church in America. RCA candidates are granted between $900-$1500. RCA candidates who complete the WTS financial aid application will have this amount automatically added to their award.
Family resources based on your income, not your parents’ income (your “need”), support from church and friends, income opportunities outside of the seminary, eligibility for government loans, and present educational debt.
Racial-ethnic diversity. These students will receive up to $3000 toward tuition each year.
Our highest merit-based scholarship is the Trustee Scholarship. It is 75% of tuition and is renewable for 3-5 years, provided yearly requirements are met. Qualified students are invited to apply for this scholarship after applying for admission. Trustee Scholarship applications and essays are due March 1; decision is made by April 1.
In-Residence vs. Distance Learning M.Div.
The average scholarship granted to those who applied in 2016 to the in-residence M.Div. was $5375, while some students received awards of $10,000. With an annual tuition of $13,760 in 2016-17, many in-residence students received aid amounts equal to half their tuition costs. Scholarships in the distance learning M.Div. programs are based on some of the same criteria, but often the cost of education and calculated need is less because most of the distance learning students remain in their home setting and are employed. The average scholarship in DL was $1960, but some awards were as much as $5100. The annual tuition for a full-time student in the DL program is $8448.
Master of Arts
Tuition discounts are available in the Master of Arts program with a cap at 35%. Discounts are given for Young Life staff, members of the Reformed Church in America, grade point average (GPA) and financial need using EFC (Expected Family Contribution) from the FAFSA.
Tuition discounts are available for students pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry (GCUPM) and the Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry (GCDM). Discounts are based on financial need using EFC (Expected Family Contribution) from the FAFSA. The GCDM program also considers Reformed Church in America (RCA) membership, racial status, and GPA. Student loans are not available for these programs. You must be enrolled at least half time in a degree program (not certificate program) to qualify for student loans.
Other sources for financial assistance
We recommend that students contact their home congregations and governing ecclesiastical bodies for potential assistance with their seminary education. Some students also raise their own support among friends and family.
How do I apply?
Students wishing to receive financial aid (including scholarships, grants, tuition reductions and loans) need to APPLY by downloading a financial aid application, completing it, and returning it to the financial aid administrator and also complete a FAFSA form online. The “Expense Budget” on the financial aid application covers 9 months, and the items are based on the standard student budget figures established at WTS. Once completed, it is your responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office of any changes in your family’s circumstances. This includes the receipt of any additional funds not reported on your application. If such a change does take place, the FA office will review and possibly revise your award. WTS is required by the federal regulations to make consumer and educational effectiveness information available.
Deadlines for financial aid applications for returning students:
received by March 15; receive full scholarship
applications received March 16 – April 1 – decreased scholarship amount
applications received after April 1 – will not be considered for scholarships.
Deadlines for financial aid applications for newly admitted students:
admitted to WTS by April 1: receive full consideration for scholarships. Financial aid application due by May 30
admitted to WTS April 2 – May 30: Limited scholarships as resources allow. Financial aid application due by June 15
admitted to WTS after May 30: No scholarships for fall semester. Loans only. Eligible for scholarships for spring semester. Financial aid application due by December 1. If you are seeking loans, you must complete the WTS financial aid application prior to any loans being certified.
Financial aid award letters are mailed by the last day of March, April, and August. Students admitted after May 30, who complete the WTS financial aid application by December 1, will receive their award letters within three weeks of submitting their WTS financial aid application.
Keep in mind when applying for Financial Aid:
Aid recipients must be matriculated M.Div., MA, or GCUPM students.
M.Div. recipients must be enrolled at least half-time to be considered for scholarships and/or loans.
Half-time for a semester is 7.5 credits in-residence and 6 credits in distance learning
You will receive half of your award each semester. In the IR M.Div. program, you will receive your full semester award if you are taking between 12 and 16 hours, half of your award if you are taking between 7.5 and 11 hours, and no award if you are taking less than 7.5 hours. In the DL M.Div. program you will receive your full semester award if you are taking 7.5 or more credits. You will receive half of your award if you are taking at least 6 credits but less than 7.5, and no award if you take less than 6 credits.
This does not apply to seniors in their last semester when they are completing the degree in three years, if full-time enrollment is not necessary to meet the graduation requirements.
MA candidates do not need to be half time for tuition discounts but must be for loans. Half time is 6 credits per semester.
Recipients of any funds administered by the Financial Aid Office must be making satisfactory progress toward their degree. If your grade point average drops below the requirement for your degree program, the academic affairs office will notify you that you have been placed on academic probation. You may receive funds for only one semester while on academic probation. Those on academic probation for two or more consecutive semesters will not be eligible for scholarships or loans.
If a scholarship or loan recipient becomes ineligible for the award, the FA offer will be adjusted or withdrawn. You will be notified if a portion of your loan needs to be returned to the lender.
In determining who will receive scholarships, consideration is given to: academic achievement, ecclesiastical endorsement, family resources, support from church and friends, income opportunities outside of the seminary, eligibility for government loans, and present debt.
If you would like additional information on scholarships or loans, please contact Tiffany Nordé.
Forms and Financial Aid Opportunities
Students are required to complete two forms to apply for financial aid.
The U.S. Government form, FAFSA. This form can be accessed at FAFSA.gov.
Students who are U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents and who are enrolled at least half time may apply to borrow up to $20,500 in unsubsidized loans on an annual basis through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. First time borrowers must do entrance counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note by going to the website www.studentloans.gov.
For the academic year, requested federal student loans are approved by August. A confirmation of approval statement will be mailed to each loan recipient along with instructions about acceptance and disbursement dates. If a student decides the full amount they requested is not needed, they should notify the financial aid administrator of any changes. A loan approved for the year is divided between fall and spring semesters. Funds are dispersed mid-September and the beginning of February. Funds are first applied toward tuition and the student’s account. The remainder goes to the student for other educational expenses.
Code of Conduct: WTS receives no benefits, gifts or remuneration from any bank/lender in exchange for referrals for Title IV student loans.
Students planning on a career in military chaplaincy can borrow up to $10,000 per year from the WTS Loan Program – Derk VanRaalte Fund. Loans from this program will be forgiven when the student becomes a military chaplain.
Scholarships range from $500-$7000 and may involve the opportunity to meet the benefactor at the seminary’s annual scholarship luncheon. All recipients are expected and required to send personal thank you letters to donors who have provided the funds. The Financial Aid Office will provide more information for you near the beginning of the fall semester.
Work opportunities for students at Western Theological Seminary are available in maintenance, the bookstore, and the library.
Veterans of Military:
If you served on Active Duty, you might be eligible for education benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If you are currently serving in the military, you may be eligible for funding offered through the Department of Defense Tuition assistance program. Check your eligibility status and the amount for which you qualify with your Service prior to enrolling. In some cases a spouse or child of an active duty Title 10 service member may be eligible for some assistance. Please check with the Department of Veterans Affairs for more information.
Scholarships for Degree-Seeking Couples
To support and encourage couples in which both people attend Western Theological Seminary seeking a Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree, the seminary offers scholarships which will waive 50% of each semester’s tuition charge when both people are making satisfactory academic progress and when they are attending at least half time. For this policy, half-time is defined as 7.5 credits per semester for in-residence students and 6 credits per semester for distance learning students. Half-time for Master of Arts students is defined as 6 credits. Satisfactory academic progress for this policy is defined as a 2.75 GPA for the academic period. In cases where one student is pursuing their M.Div. and one their MA they must each meet the criteria for their degree. Students cannot receive this scholarship and other seminary scholarships.