Student debt is the new normal—but how normal is it really? Consider that 54% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with an average of $29,100 in student debt.1 These numbers are staggering, but they only become worse for those who attend a private university, pursue a graduate degree, or marry someone with student debt of their own. The pulpits of America and the pioneer regions of the unreached world deserve our most qualified workers, but many of them are running elsewhere in search of a higher paying job. With an issue this ubiquitous, we must be sober and honest with ourselves. Something needs to change. Let us examine three strategies for getting out of student debt.
Start with community college
No, it isn’t the school you always dreamed of, but recognize the cost differential. The average published tuition price of a four-year private institution in the United States is $39,400 per year (2022-23).1 By contrast, the cost is only $3,860 at a public two-year institution.1 By simply fulfilling your general education requirements at the local community college, you will be saving an average of $71,080.2 What might you do with $71,080 less in student debt? Answer: Whatever God directs for you to do with your life, without seeking the approval of your second master (Matthew 6:24).
Work while in college
Did you know that students who work 20 hours or less while in college have a higher GPA than those who don’t work at all?3 Not only does work have a net positive effect on studies, but it also allows students to cash flow a portion of their tuition, reducing their borrowing need. Ponder the wisdom found in Acts 24:16: “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” Choose the short-term pain of working part-time while in school to clear your conscience, and reduce your student debt load upon graduation.
Pursue outside assistance
Perhaps you have already graduated, and your student debt is keeping you in bondage (Proverbs 22:7). Fortunately for you, there are options. Should God lead you pursue long-term missions to an unreached people group, there is an organization called The Go Fund who will take over the student debt payments of those approved for their program (thegofund.com). Another organization called MedSend awards four-year grants to repay the student debt of healthcare professionals working in underserved areas (medsend.org). Perhaps your church or a family member would consider paying off a portion of your student debt, should you have a captivating vision of what you believe God is directing you to do with your life.
We must remember that a college degree is a wonderful thing. 60% of unreached people live in countries that are closed to missionaries, but open to college educated teachers, nurses, engineers, and others who can bring some sort of economic value.4 However, the great mobilization paradox is that higher education is strategic, but student debt inhibits ministry work of many kinds. Make war on your student debt and submit yourself into unbridled service to King Jesus.