Student debt is a serious issue affecting theological education, particularly for Black students. Black students have on average $11,500 more debt from their theological education than their white counterparts.
Leaders of The Gift of Black Theological Education and Black Church Collaborative met in February in Washington to address the issue. In a panel discussion, students and recent graduates told of having multiple jobs to try to hold down a ministry job and pay back their student loans.
Payne Theological Seminary President Michael Joseph Brown, Ph.D., noted that Black students carry on average $42,700 in student debt from theological schools, according to the Association of Theological Schools. Debt can exceed $100,000, and the monthly payments on those loans can be crippling.
“What would you do if you didn’t have a mortgage or a car loan?” Brown asked. “Debt keeps us chained to the past. Debt forgiveness releases you for what you can do for God.”
Leaders of The Gift Collaborative are continuing to meet to discuss ways to ease Black student debt from theological education.