A Vision of Debt-free Theological Study

The goal of freeing students from debt is one of five aims stated in Yale Divinity School’s Strategic Plan, which is designed to strengthen the school’s leadership position in the 21st century. Written with the school’s 200th anniversary in 2022 in mind, the plan’s other four goals or pivot points are: Forging a Diverse Learning Community, Fostering Transformative Leadership, Building Faith Traditions, and Cultivating Community in a Living-Building Residential Complex.

The goal of “Freeing Students from Debt and for Vocation” is considered critical to strengthening YDS’s capacity to train Christian leaders for the academy, church, and society.

Currently, many students enter YDS with $38,000 of educational debt on average, and leave with $60,000. This debt burden makes it difficult for students to embrace the life of ministry and service to which they are called. Strong financial aid is critical to attracting the best and brightest to YDS. Admitted students who decide not to attend YDS cite larger financial aid packages from other schools as the top reason for their decision.

It is crucial to build a diverse and international student body. Competition is keen for qualified students from underrepresented minorities, and financial assistance plays an important role in recruiting these students. International students, particularly those from parts of the globe where Christianity is growing, are often unable to finance a theological education at YDS. Education for Christian leadership should not be restricted to those who come from economically privileged backgrounds.

Goals Include:

  • Raise $53 million in endowment funds for financial aid by 2022. This would allow YDS students to study without acquiring additional debt for tuition. All members of the YDS community as well as friends who care about the goals of YDS will be asked to participate in funding these additional scholarships. Larger gifts ($50,000 and above) will be sought for the endowment, but every donor can participate by contributing to the Annual Fund, which is entirely devoted to supporting student financial aid.
  • Raise an additional $2 million endowment to allow YDS to award 10 merit scholarships per year.