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Funding Your Theological Education

Planning carefully for your theological education is a wise personal and spiritual practice. The Office of Admissions, Vocation, and Stewardship is here to assist you in planning for and beyond your Divinity School education.

Click on a financial topic below for more information:

Tuition & Estimated Fees

The Divinity School and Vanderbilt University endeavor to make theological education an affordable option for all admitted students. Financial aid is offered to degree-seeking students based upon merit and need. Merit scholarships are awarded through the Divinity School and range from partial to full-tuition scholarships. Need-based aid in the form of federal work-study and loans is available through the University Office of Student Financial Aid for those who qualify.  Most students find that while tuition at Vanderbilt may be higher than at other theological schools, our average tuition award is also higher, making Vanderbilt a very affordable option.

2015-2016 Estimated Tuition, Fees & Living Expenses

How Do I Pay For My Degree?

A typical financial aid package may include scholarships, federally-funded graduate student loans, and college work-study employment.

We also strongly encourage students to seek funding from outside sources, including external organizations or foundations and denominational loan and scholarship programs. The Divinity School strives to maintain a database of external scholarships that our students may be eligible for HERE.

Merit-Based Scholarships

All degree-seeking students, regardless of citizenship or status, are eligible to be considered for merit-based scholarship support through their application for admission. Scholarships, varying in value, are guaranteed for the number of credit hours required to complete the degree program. Other restrictions may apply, as stated in the conditions of the award. Scholarship students are expected to maintain a satisfactory grade level and may be invited occasionally to perform tasks related to the academic program and community life of the Divinity School.

No additional application is required to be considered for most merit-based awards, although applicants must complete all application materials by January 15 to be considered for one of our named, full-tuition scholarships.  A full list of available scholarships and their criteria may be found here

Notification of merit scholarship decisions is included in the admission acceptance letter.  Typically, applicants may expect to hear an admission and financial aid decision within four to six weeks of submitting a completed application, but no earlier than the first week of February.  

Need-Based Financial Aid

Need-based aid at Vanderbilt is restricted to U.S. citizens and is administered via the Office of Student Financial Aid in the form of federal loans and work-study eligibility. Applications for federal, need-based aid become available in January of the year for which the student intends to enroll using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Before you borrow, know the facts by reading the Financial Literacy Guidance From Federal Student Aid document published by the U.S. Department of Education.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you choose to take out federal, need-based loans, we recommend becoming familiar with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Students who plan to work full-time in a public service job following graduation may qualify for loan forgiveness.

Yellow Ribbon Program

Vanderbilt is a full participant in the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, which offers essential financial support for U.S. veterans and their families. The Divinity School and Vanderbilt University welcome and encourage U.S. veterans to apply. To learn more, please visit Vanderbilt University's Yellow Ribbon website.

Being a Wise Steward:
Budgeting & Creative Planning Resources

Worried about how to afford theological education? Need help thinking through how to make ends meet?

Our Stewardship website offers a number of resources to consider as you plan your next steps, including budgeting worksheets, loan calculators, and ideas for thinking creatively about how to fund your theological education.

For more information about the Divinity School's Stewardship resources and financial coaching program, please contact Lillian Hallstrand, Director of Stewardship and Vocational Planning, at

VIDEO: How to Keep From Mortgaging Your Future

This 30-minute video, developed by Auburn Theological Seminary, offers an account of how several students have approached financing a theological education.  For detailed budget spreadsheets and information on national studies on theological student indebtedness, please visit the Auburn Theological Seminary website.


Vanderbilt University Equal Opportunity Policy

In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008i, Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, sexual orientation ii , gender identity iii , religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their gender expression iv consistent with the University’s nondiscrimination policy. To read more about this policy, visit

i The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination in health coverage and in employment based on genetic information.
ii Sexual orientation refers to a person’s self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, or uncertain.
iii Gender identity is generally defined as a person’s own sense of identification as male, female, both, or neither as distinguished from actual biological sex, i.e. it is one’s psychological sense of self.
iv Gender expression is everything we do that communicates our sense of identification to others.