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Today's Seminary Students "Too Poor To Take Vow of Poverty"

Surging student debt may push seminary out of reach for budding pastors.

Today's budding pastors and theologians are entering and exiting seminary with more debt than ever before, according to new research from The Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary.

Auburn research reveals the number of master of divinity graduates who borrow money is surging, as well as the total size of their loans. Debts of $30,000 to $80,000 are now common — with little hope of a high-wage job to repay them, given that Department of Labor statistics estimated a clergyman's average yearly wage to be about $44,140 last year.

Those who acquire substantial debt before seminary may be "too poor to take the vow of poverty," Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate told the ARDA's David Briggs. The center has found that many religious institutes have turned away candidates due to educational debt.

CT has noted how seminaries hope to follow Christian colleges in helping students repay loans. Some seminaries are turning to online education in order to cut costs and allow enrollment to grow.

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