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Bible education: What’s the cost?

Preaching schools and universities offer resources to help aspiring preachers.

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For many preachers — or would-be preachers — pay is a problem, regardless of their education.

Low income is often cited as a major reason for the preacher shortage in Churches of Christ.


Sacred Calling: Read all the stories in the series


For those who took out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans for a ministry-related degree, the obstacle can be insurmountable.

But more than a dozen preacher training schools, colleges and universities associated with Churches of Christ — with help from individual Christians — offer resources to help those looking to become preachers graduate with as little debt as possible.

Bear Valley Bible Institute student Garrett Akin says he did a lesson on apathy and realized he was apathetic and not doing everything he could for God.

Bear Valley Bible Institute student Garrett Akin says he did a lesson on apathy and realized he was apathetic and not doing everything he could for God.

In fact, three preacher training schools — Bear Valley Bible Institute in Denver, Colo., Memphis School of Preaching in Memphis, Tenn., and Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas — offer their programs completely free of tuition.

They don’t, however, have traditional four-year degree programs, nor do they offer the traditional college experience.

For that, Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., provides full tuition — worth $10,965 per semester — to a limited number of Bible majors through its Jack Zorn Scholarship.

And David Odom, vice president for enrollment at York University in Nebraska, told The Christian Chronicle he is helping propose full-tuition scholarships for two Bible majors each year. That funding would start in the next academic year.


Related: Why fewer students are training to be preachers


Heritage Christian University in Florence, Ala., also has a Legacy Scholarship that covers the remaining cost of tuition — $5,076 per semester — for on-campus students once their Pell Grant, if eligible, is applied.

Students walk across Faulkner’s University's Quad.

Students walk across Faulkner’s University’s Quad.

While other schools may not offer full tuition for Bible majors, many have smaller-but-significant Bible scholarships available for a larger number of students.

These often stack with other institutional or outside financial aid students may receive based on test scores, academic achievement, need or other criteria, so recipients can still come away tuition free and even have funds left over to put toward housing or other needs.

Both Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, Ark., and York University offer Bible scholarships that cover at least half of tuition — the full cost of which is $13,740 and $10,800 per semester, respectively — but can be worth more.

Lubbock Christian University in Texas offers all Bible majors a $6,000 university scholarship and endowed scholarships that average $3,500 toward its full-time tuition of $13,339 per semester.

Grady Pettigrew studies his Bible at Crowley's Ridge College in Arkansas.

Grady Pettigrew studies his Bible at Crowley’s Ridge College in Arkansas.

At Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., most Bible majors receive departmental scholarships that cover, on average, $4,000 to $5,000 per year but can be as much as $8,000 toward the tuition of $12,500 per semester.

Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., awards scholarships to undergraduate Bible majors averaging about $3,800 toward its tuition of $19,412 per semester.

Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City offers a limited number of Bible majors a $4,000 scholarship toward its tuition of $12,275 per semester.

To-go lunch in hand, Brooke Mefford walks alone on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.

To-go lunch in hand, Brooke Mefford walks alone on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.

Harding University in Searcy, Ark., offers first-year Bible majors the $10,000 Yingling Freshman Bible Scholarship. Returning Harding students can receive varying scholarships from more than 50 endowed funds toward the tuition rate of $12,120 per semester.

Abilene Christian University in Texas also offers freshman Bible students a scholarship that’s typically worth $2,000 toward its tuition of about $21,290 per semester.

Harding University students attend an introduction session.

Harding University students attend an introduction session.

Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. — with tuition of roughly $31,195 per semester — provides its religion majors free summer courses and a $2,500 stipend for summer ministry internships.

And online-only Amridge University in Montgomery, Ala., gives full-time Bible majors a discounted tuition rate of $335 per semester hour, compared to $395 per semester hour for other bachelor’s degree programs.

Filed under: Bible education Christian colleges and universities National News Partners Preacher schools preacher shortage preacher training Sacred calling Top Stories

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