Tuition & Financial Aid

ESR's inaugural entering class paid tuition in the amount of $300 to enroll as a full time student in 1963, or $1,884 in 2004 dollars. For the 2005-06 academic year, the tuition cost for a full time student is $7,956. Among schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, ESR's tuition rate ranks in the 25th percentile, meaning that tuition costs are higher at 75% of its peer institutions. For 2004-05, tuition for the Master of Divinity degree exceeded $11,500 at some institutions.

The low tuition rate at ESR reflects the School's commitment to assist its students, as much as possible, to answer their calls to ministry without undue financial stress. In addition to the low tuition rate, students who have strong gifts for ministry and the endorsement of their home meeting or church are eligible for scholarships that cover full tuition for two years. Other financial aid is need-based offering up to 40% of the cost of tuition. As the graph on tuition versus financial aid demonstrates, in recent years 50% of ESR's tuition revenue has been funded by scholarships. Such generosity is possible only because of the support of donors who understand the importance of affordable, high quality education that prepares persons for ministry. Despite this generosity, a recent study by the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education reports that, on average, seminary graduates accumulate over $25,000 of debt while financing their education.

Historically, ESR's operating budget has been well supported by income from sources other than tuition. The two primary sources, as previously noted, are endowment income and gifts to the annual fund. The accompanying graph demonstrates that the school consistently receives well over 70% of its income from sources other than tuition. This fact, along with increasing operating costs and the accelerating rate of student debt, points strongly to the need for a major gifts initiative that allows ESR to maintain its high quality of education without increased burden upon students, most of whom will assume positions of leadership that are not highly lucrative.