Understanding Match to Zero
January 31, 2023
We at Westminster recognize that theological education is an investment. It is an investment meant to yield lasting spiritual riches rather than earthly financial rewards, and one whose benefits also reach as far as the Gospel is heard. Its eternal significance demands rigorous preparation. And because of the depth and breadth of education necessary to produce biblical specialists, a significant cost is incurred to offer this training to students.
However, at Westminster, we have taken this into account and have built a unique system to offset the costs of what is sure to be one of the most important investments of your life. This system is our Ministry Partnership Match Scholarship, otherwise known as “Match to Zero”. Through it, you have the opportunity to pay zero dollars in tuition, allowing you to enter ministry without taking on crippling student debt, which often shackles graduates for a lifetime.
In this article we will explain how this scholarship works in detail by covering the general scholarships that we offer, how they pair with the Matching scholarship, and how building a support network is central to limiting your cost burden.
General and Need-Based Scholarships
Our Match to Zero scholarship is intentionally designed to be paired with our general scholarships. Thanks to our generous donors, every applicant applying to Westminster’s residential MDiv programs receives a general scholarship that covers 65% to 90% of the overall tuition costs (65% for the MDiv General and 90% for the MDiv Pastoral Fellows). On top of those scholarships there are also a limited number of need-based scholarships available (10 for the MDiv Pastoral Fellows and 20 for the MDiv General). These scholarships alone offer you a dramatic decrease in annual tuition costs.
To put this into perspective, the overall annual tuition cost of the MDiv General, before scholarships, is just over $34,000. The general program scholarship reduces that down to just under $12,000 per year. For the MDiv Pastoral Fellows, the annual tuition, before scholarships, is just under $50,000. After scholarships, that drops down to just under $5,000 per year.
Ministry Partnership Match Scholarship (“Match to Zero”)
Once general and need-based scholarships have been applied to your tuition costs, the Match to Zero scholarship can then potentially reduce your tuition costs down to zero dollars.
This is accomplished by Westminster matching any funds raised in support for your tuition. For example, if your church is able to support you with a financial contribution towards your education, Westminster will meet that contribution dollar for dollar. If you have family members who are willing to support you financially, Westminster will also match those contributions dollar for dollar. If you have ministry partners of practically any kind that are willing to support you financially, Westminster will match those contributions dollar for dollar until your tuition costs are fully provided for, leaving you to pay zero of your tuition out of pocket. The idea is to build a support network of people who are invested in your future ministry and kingdom work, so not only are you fully funded but also maintaining vital connections that will help sustain you during your time in seminary.
Building a Support Network
The added benefit of this scholarship is that the financial support network that you build can and should double as a spiritual support and prayer network. The people that contribute to your ministry training will almost certainly be the same people that will support your ministry efforts in some way after seminary. This means that when you leave seminary, you will already have a support network in place to assist you, to pray for you, and to encourage you in your continued service to the Lord.
Most seminary students who are entering ministry positions for the first time have to build these networks while undertaking the difficult work of gospel ministry, which often proves time consuming and challenging to juggle amid other demands. The Ministry Partnership Match Scholarship puts you in a position where, upon leaving seminary and entering the ministry, you are able to focus your attention solely on the work of ministry, supported by a pre-existing network that has already walked alongside you, seen you grow, and cares deeply.
Though seminary is expensive, Westminster has continually structured its business model to ensure that every student who attends is shielded from the full true cost of the high quality education they receive at WTS. We do that by providing general and need based scholarships, matching outside contributions, and encouraging students to proactively build a support network that will remain alongside them through their formal studies and beyond.
If you have any questions about the financial aid model that Westminster employs, our admissions counselors are ready to talk you through these issues and help discuss the best path for you to attend seminary without incurring a lasting financial burden like student debt.
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