If you're worried about funding your Christian education, you should know that there are many financial aid options out there that can help you pay for tuition and other expenses. In many cases, the aid available to traditional students is also available to students who attend faith-based institutions. But tuition assistance opportunities do not end there. There are also many scholarship and fellowship opportunities created specifically for students of Christian colleges. Listed below are different forms of financial aid for which Christian college students can apply.
The federal government provides loans and grants based on need. To qualify, students must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens, enroll at least half-time, and maintain a minimum GPA. Like students at traditional colleges, Christian college students can qualify for federal aid as long as they attend an accredited college or university. As many Christian colleges are accredited by agencies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, you should be able to find an accredited Christian college that meets your needs and helps you qualify for aid.
Federal aid includes loans based on need with fixed interest rates, loans with interest that the U.S. Department of Education will pay while you are in school, and loans that can be forgiven if certain criteria are met. The federal government also offers grants based on need and scholarships based on achievement.
To find out if you qualify for federal aid, fill out the FAFSA. Even if you don't think you'll receive an award, you should still fill it out. It's free, and you may discover that you do qualify for some funding.
Many states also offer aid programs, including college savings programs — which parents can start while students are young — and grant programs. Some states may also sponsor scholarship programs. To find out whether you qualify for state aid, visit your state's higher education website. There, you should find out the specific criteria that you need to fill in order to qualify for state tuition assistance.
Many Christian colleges provide financial aid opportunities specifically for their students. These include academic grants, scholarships, and research fellowships. Typically, students qualify for these programs through merit, need, and their status within the college or university. Sometimes, students will need to complete essays to qualify. Contact your school's financial aid office to learn more about the financial aid programs your school offers.
Some churches offer financial aid opportunities for students who are involved in their communities. They may vary by denomination, but students can usually qualify by demonstrating financial need, academic merit, or superior Christian service. If you are involved with a church, don't be afraid to ask them if there are scholarship opportunities available.
Church aid programs include the following:
- St. Paul's United Methodist Church Foundation's Christian Education Scholarship
- West End Church of Christ's Christian Education Scholarship Fund
- Central Presbyterian/Ruth Blackburn Scholarship
In addition, the churches that are affiliated with Christian colleges and universities may offer scholarship opportunities as well. This information will typically be found on your school's website. If you can't find any information, contact your school's financial aid office. They should have a list of endowments sponsored by church affiliations.
Private Scholarships and Fellowships
Many companies and organizations offer private funding opportunities for Christian students. Check your area to see if there are any locally funded scholarship opportunities. You can also check professional associations that pertain to your field. Many offer fellowship or award opportunities for students who demonstrate proficiency in research that relates to the organization. For instance, the Christian Association for Psychological Studies offers a Student Paper Competition and the Government Finance Officers Association offers multiple scholarships.
Some specific Christian college scholarships include:
- Christian Missionary Scholarship Foundation
- Young Christian Leaders Scholarship
- The Foundation for Christian Leaders Scholarship
When searching for financial aid, your best resources are your school and the FAFSA. Your Christian college should be able to point you in the direction of aid opportunities for which you qualify and the FAFSA will help you determine whether or not you will receive any federal tuition assistance. Other resources include your church, local organizations, and professional associations. When it comes to financial aid, a little research goes a long way.