Are you trying to pay for a seminary education? In today’s world, it can be difficult to afford paying for any form of high education. If God has called you to further prepare for ministry, then seminary is one of the best ways to prepare for it. How will you afford it? Here are 15 ways that can help you save money in seminary, so that you can graduate with little or no debt:
- Find Affordable Living. This is all about living within your means. If you have to share an apartment with multiple people to bring that housing bill down, then go for it. I’ve seen 6-7 people stay in an apartment and live to tell about it. If you have a family, then look for the cheapest housing available. Studios can be rented at a fairly affordable price.
- Apply for Scholarships. Many seminaries have a large amount of scholarships and do not receive a high number of applicants for them. You don’t have to be dirt poor to apply for a scholarship! Just fill out the form, and let the financial aid team decide if they would like to award you a scholarship. The time you use to fill out a few applications could turn into a big scholarship or two (or numerous small ones), so it’s totally worth it. Here is a site that lists over 160 seminary scholarships to help you get started.
- Ask for Practical Gifts for Christmas. This one may hurt, but don’t ask for the latest gadgets and clothing for Christmas. Find out which textbooks you will need for the spring semester, then add a few to your wishlist. Also, asking for the necessities (school clothes, amenities, food, coffee, etc) will help too.
- Buy and Resell Textbooks. If you don’t want to keep one, then re-sell it to the younger students. If you can borrow a book or loan a book from the library, then you can save lots of money instead of buying every textbook you need. If you really like a few of your textbooks, buy them later on.
- Work a Part-time Job. A little bit goes a long way! Even though this probably won’t pay the entire college bill (depends on the tuition costs at your school), it will be a big help.
- Work Like Crazy in the Summer. Most of your friends will say it is too hard to get multiple summer jobs. Don’t listen to them. Be proactive in looking for positions. Talk to people you know that might have the connections to get you a job, or search through the job openings at your seminary or in your hometown. Many people take one of their skills and turn it into a second or third job (ex: guitar players, you could teach guitar lessons). Work like crazy so that you don’t have to drop out of school due to finances.
- Ask Your Church for Help. If your church doesn’t offer scholarships already, contact the Missions Board and ask if they would consider supporting you as you prepare for ministry. You’d be surprised at how many churches will try to help in some way.
- Make a Budget. When you plan out what you will spend, you are less likely to “unknowingly” increase your spending by making impulse purchases. It’s tedious, but it is very successful way to save.
- Sign Up for the Payment Plan. See if your school will allow you to sign up for a payment plan, so that you don’t have to take out a loan. Speaking of which…
- Never Pay Interest. If you can, avoid taking out loans. They get expensive, fast. If you have to take out a loan, work as hard as you can to pay it off, making extra payments as frequently as you can. If you have a credit card, don’t purchase something with it unless you can pay the credit card company that same day. Seminary debt can be a real danger. Check out this seminary debt infographic to see how bad it can get.
- Save Your Spare Change. When I was a teenager, I saved all of my change for over a year. I ended up with over $200. Your spare change could turn into several weeks of grocery money.
- Eat Filling Foods. Think oatmeal, peanut butter, nuts, and other filling foods. Eat something filling for at least a meal per day, and you will be less hungry for the rest of it.
- Find Affordable Furniture. If you need to furnish your place, check out garage sales and Craigslist. Maybe you have family or friends who would be interested in giving you their old furniture.
- Buy Clothes Used. I know this will be a hard one for some people, but it can work. Target the expensive items like dress clothes. I once purchased a nice suit jacket for $1. It is totally do-able to find nice clothes for cheap.
- Don’t Pay for Cable. There are cheaper alternatives for entertainment (if you even have the time). See if you can split a Netflix account with a family member, and check into your college library for movies that you can check out for free.
A penny saved is a penny earned. I hope these tips will help you save lots of them!
By Steven Knight. Steven is a Christ follower, husband, ministry leader, and student in the ThM program at Dallas Theological Seminary. Steven is a visionary leader with a deep desire to equip a new generation of children’s and family ministry leaders through his speaking, consulting, and writing ministries. He frequently blogs over at KidminTools.com.