(February 22, 2012) The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg announced today a new structure for its scholarship distribution to students in the current application process for entering degree programs in the fall of 2012. In essence, students entering the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program in the fall of 2012 will, upon successful completion of their internship in the third year, receive a full tuition scholarship for the last 30 credits of their degree, effectively providing the last year of academic preparation tuition-free. Scholarship offers will similarly cover the last 12 and 15 credits for the Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.) and Master of Arts in Ministerial Studies (M.A.M.S.) degrees, respectively.
The Seminary’s Enrollment Services and Student Life team has researched the impact of a new approach to scholarship assistance that will achieve the goals of increasing the number of leaders for the church, mitigating the increase in student debt, and contributing to an improved financial “bottom line.” The new scholarship distribution will cover approximately 10% more of total tuition costs. The Rev. Virginia “Ginny” Price leads the Admissions staff, and will guide the scholarship committee to enact this approach, informally titled “Scholars of Abundance: Pray, Trust, Share!”
“This decision means an increase in spending of scholarship assets,” said Dr. Marty Stevens, Larson Professor of Stewardship and Seminary CFO, “but we think that we can make it possible for more seminarians to follow their vocation and complete their degree preparation.” The increase in scholarship aid is also intended to offset higher borrowing costs to students who obtain federal student loans, beginning July 1, 2012.
Seminary leaders also concurred that this investment in students is consistent with Gettysburg’s strong theological commitment to stewardship. The Rev. Kathleen Reed, Chief Advancement Officer said that “When we teach stewardship, we advocate for church leaders to give generously of their own resources to the mission of the church, and we preach and teach Biblical generosity among our sisters and brothers in Christ.” She continued, “Now we will align our institutional practice to model what we preach.”
Seminary staff expressed the hope that future graduates will join the class of 2010 in committing to Seminary One. All class members that year made a commitment to give 1% of income annually to their alma mater, and also to encourage their congregations to similarly support theological education. “This was a powerful witness to what they learned in the course of their study and formation,” said Seminary president Michael Cooper-White.
The president also indicated that amidst a rapidly changing environment for graduate theological education, “We are convinced that Gettysburg has an outstanding offer. We want all students considering seminary to have the best possible education so that they thrive in their vocation. Scholars of Abundance is a leap of faith, but we are confident our many donors will respond with even greater generosity so that we can support those who respond to God’s call to public ministry.”