Survey helps ministers learn how to cut their higher ed costs

A plethora of valuable information continues to be revealed

by Dr. Perry Chang, Research Services | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Austin College in Sherman, Texas, was founded in 1849 by Dr. Daniel Baker, a Princeton-educated Presbyterian missionary. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s first-ever comprehensive Minister Survey, fielded in fall 2019, has resulted in some 680 ministers receiving information on Presbyterian Mission Agency and Board of Pensions programs that can help them reduce their current educational debt and tap into financial aid programs for their children’s education.

The Minister Survey was conducted by PC(USA)’s Research Services in partnership with other PC(USA) ministries. Some 4,700 PC(USA) ministers of the Word and Sacrament participated.

The Mission Agency’s Financial Aid for Service ministry offers a range of programs to help ministers of the Word and Sacrament and other Presbyterians reduce the cost of higher education, including debt already incurred, for themselves and their children.

The Board of Pensions also maintains debt reduction programs for ministers who are part of the Board’s Benefits Plan.

“People we’ve heard back from have been very happy to know about the diversity of programs that the PC(USA) offers,” says Melonee Tubb, Associate, Financial Aid for Service.

“In 2019 we had 82 participants, for whom we distributed $318,000 in assistance and 13 of whom eliminated their educational debt,” adds the Rev. Dr. John McFayden, Executive Vice President and Chief of Church Engagement for the Board of Pensions.

Research Services will continue to interpret and share results from the Minister Survey. Already, Minister Survey results have supplied critical information for the denomination’s mental health initiative. Interpreting how ministers responded to an array of questions about educational debt will be next.

“There is a depth of rich information in the Minister Survey results,” says Dr. Susan Barnett, Director, Research Services. “Helping Presbyterians understand how ministers are managing mental health issues and educational debt is just the start of what we will be able to do with the results.”

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