Freeing Students from Debt and for Vocation

Important progress has been made on this goal as part of the strategic plan. Read more in the news, “YDS will cover full tuition cost for aided students”.

–updated March 17, 2022

Position for Leadership

Fully funding student tuition need is critical to strengthening YDS’s capacity to train Christian leaders for the academy, church, and society. Currently, students enter YDS with $28,000 of educational debt on average, and leave with over $55,000. This debt burden makes it difficult for students to embrace the lives of ministry and service to which they are called. Financial assistance has consistently been articulated as our top funding priority because of its indirect impact on nearly every aspect of what we do. Robust financial aid is critical to:

  • Attracting the best and the 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. All students in the Master of Theological Studies program at the University of Notre Dame receive full tuition scholarships for the duration of their programs. Harvard Divinity School is able to offer not only financial aid for tuition but, in some cases, $10,000 stipends as well to assist with living expenses. Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary announced plans to become tuition-free to all Master’s students beginning in Fall 2015, and plans to offer living stipends as well in a few years.
  • Building a diverse and international student body. Competition is keen for qualified students from underrepresented minorities, and robust financial assistance plays an important role in recruiting these students. International students, particularly those from parts of the globe where Christianity is growing, rarely have the resources to finance a theological education at YDS. Education for Christian leadership should not be restricted to those who come from economically privileged backgrounds.
  • Recruiting and retaining a world-class faculty. Attracting the best and brightest students to YDS is also key to attracting the best faculty, without whom YDS cannot maintain its leadership position within Yale and within the world of theological education.


  • 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. While larger gifts (of $50,000 and above) will be sought for the endowment, every donor can participate by contributing to the annual fund, which is entirely devoted to supporting student financial aid. Growth in the annual fund will enable scholarships to be funded until the endowments are in place to fund them.
  • Raise an additional $2 million endowment to allow YDS to award 10 merit scholarships per year.

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