Financial Aid Policy and Forms

Policy on Financial Aid for Academic Year Students

The School of Theology of the University of the South offers generous financial aid to supplement seminary students’ own resources and the financial support of the parishes and dioceses that send them. Financial aid is meant to serve the church’s mission by opening the way to excellent theological education to those who otherwise could not afford it, and to minimize the burden of additional educational debt carried into parish ministry. Thanks to the gifts of many generations, Sewanee has substantial resources for these purposes, and is glad to be able to meet as much as possible of students’ demonstrated financial need.

As of the end of October for the 2018-2019 academic year, reports show that the School has awarded approximately $1.7 million in institutional grant aid. Eighty-two percent of funds were disbursed in need-based awards ranging from $2,150-$40,631, and 18% in merit and incentive awards ranging from $1,500 to $18,000. The average of all awards was approximately $24,500. Sixty-eight students (96% of degree-seeking students) qualified for financial aid, and of those, 25 received more than $30,000, 18 received more than $20,000, 20 received between $10,000 and $20,000 and 5 received less than $10,000. In 2017-2018, four of sixty-seven degree-seeking students (less than 6%) borrowed federal student loans. To date this year, six of 70 (less than 9%) have borrowed federal student loans. During the five-year period 2014–2018, an average of 98.6% of our students who responded to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) graduating student questionnaire reported that they had incurred less than $20,000 in educational debt while in seminary, and an average of 92% said that financial aid was significant in their choice of schools. We believe these statistics attest to the generosity of our aid and our continued commitment to helping minimize student loan debt. 

To ensure that grant aid goes where it is needed most, applicants for financial aid are required to demonstrate financial need. Awards are calculated on the basis of income from all sources in relation to allowable expenses, up to a maximum grant level set annually. Links to financial aid application forms are provided below.            

School of Theology students should return financial aid materials to the Seminary Office of Financial Aid, 335 Tennessee Avenue, Sewanee, Tennessee, 37383-0001. Questions regarding the financial aid application should be directed to Connie Patton, 931.598.1340, or email you anticipate the need for a federal loan, submit your FAFSA to the University Office of Financial Aid, 735 University Avenue, Sewanee, Tennessee, 37383-1000, and questions regarding federal loans and federal loan eligibility should be directed to that office at 931.598.1312, or by email to


Financial Aid Policy for Summer Term (Advanced Degrees Program) Students

Some scholarship monies are available for tuition to students enrolled in the Advanced Degrees Program. 

The financial aid form must be returned by April 9 in order to be considered for the coming summer. Financial aid is available only for tuition assistance. The student is responsible for all other costs, such as travel, housing, board, etc. Financial aid is not available to special students.

The 2018 ADP financial aid online form may be found here.


Guidelines for Financial Aid

The School of Theology annually awards a small number of Chancellor's Scholarships to some students of exceptional promise preparing for distinctive ministries in The Episcopal Church, showing exceptional academic merit, enhancing diversity among the student body, and occasionally (as determined by the dean) to meet certain goals related to strategic initiatives that serve the School's mission. These grants are not based on an applicant's demonstrated financial need. Applicants who wish to be considered for a Chancellor’s Scholarship should include a letter with their financial aid application, describing their strengths and qualifications in the areas listed above. Recipients are selected prior to entering seminary, and must provide the financial documentation described below even if they are not applying for need-based financial aid. Chancellor’s Scholarship recipients will continue to receive their award for the normal period of the degree program if their performance is deemed adequate by the faculty.

Financial aid is available to full-time students for the normal period to complete a degree or program (three years for the M.Div., two years for the M.A., and one year for the diploma in Anglican studies). Part-time, degree-seeking students may apply for financial aid in the same manner as full-time students. If aid for a part-time student is approved, it will be on a pro-rated basis, according to the number of credit hours the student is taking in the semester in question. The maximum financial aid granted during the student’s program cannot exceed the total of what would have been awarded if completed on a full-time basis. Part-time students who are not in a degree program are not eligible for financial aid. Financial need is calculated for a 12-month period except for the final year when it is calculated for a 10-month period. Financial aid may not be used for study at other institutions. Students may apply for grants for cross-cultural study from other sources and from special funds at the School of Theology.


Application Instructions/Requirements

1. Need-based University grants are awarded after all sources of income and estimated expenses are identified. It is the responsibility of the student to provide the required information, including: financial aid application, Form 1040 federal income tax return from the last completed filing year, forms verifying diocesan and parish support, copies of applications for outside scholarships, documentation of student’s income, documentation of spouse’s current and anticipated income, documentation of child support, documentation of uninsured medical expenses, documentation of assets, and cost of health insurance. The current and anticipated income of a spouse must be included even if the spouse is not living in Sewanee. Each year, the University determines a maximum amount of need-based aid for applicants. The maximum amount takes into account the size of the household. Need-based awards will not exceed that amount.

2. Signed forms from the sponsoring parish and the sponsoring diocese, indicating all local sources of support, are required as part of the need-based financial aid application (except in the M.A. program, in which church sponsorship is not required.) A list of potential resources for outside scholarship assistance is provided here. Many students find other potential resources on the Internet. It is the responsibility of all applicants for need-based financial aid to show evidence of submitting applications for scholarships from at least three outside sources in addition to diocese and parish, before the University will award additional financial aid. To offer an additional incentive to seek outside scholarships, students who win outside scholarships, not including diocesan, parish, or family grants, will have only fifty percent (50%) of that additional aid counted as income in calculating their financial need.

3. Information about all assets must be provided as part of the need-based financial aid application. A percentage of all assets held by the student and the student’s spouse (if applicable) is considered as available annually to help meet the costs while in seminary. For the current year, that percentage is 10% for all assets. There are special provisions for retirement accounts to which the student does not have access without penalty. Twenty-five percent (25%) of such retirement accounts are exempt, and an additional 10% for students under 59.5 years of age. For students with dependents who are attending college full-time, the University will exempt up to $10,000 per dependent college student. Debt and debt service cannot be considered as part of a student’s financial need, although in some cases liabilities may be set against assets (e.g. house mortgages).

4. There is a minimum amount, annually set, which a student and (if applicable) a student’s spouse must contribute toward their own support, irrespective of need or employment. For the current year, the contribution is $1,500 for a student and $2,000 for a spouse. That contribution is waived in the case of a spouse caring for children too young to be eligible for Sewanee childcare. To encourage spousal employment, the University will exclude one half of spouses’ gross earnings from consideration as revenue.

5. The School of Theology Student Employment Program (work-study) is available to eligible seminary students through positions created in various departments of the University and the School of Theology. Students receiving need-based financial aid must have Student Employment Program or other jobs if positions are available. A full-time seminary student may work up to a maximum of 12 hours per week, depending on availability of jobs. Spouses may seek temporary employment (up to 12 hours per week) through the School of Theology when positions are available.

6. Cost of attendance is based on a budget set by the institution. This budget is based on tuition and fees and a modest cost of living allowance for housing, food, utilities, books, transportation, and other incidental personal expenses. In addition, students may submit documented health insurance premiums, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and certain childcare expenses, which will be added to the cost of attendance within predetermined limits.
 First year students may estimate healthcare and childcare expenses until final plans are made and documentation of actual expenses can be obtained.  If the documentation of actual expenses varies from the original report, this will result in an award adjustment.

7. Students who purchase a house in the Sewanee area and apply for financial aid must declare the house as an asset.

8. Normally, the University considers only the expense of one household for purposes of financial aid; the expense of a second household, away from Sewanee, is in general not included. In special cases, when a student can demonstrate the necessity of maintaining two households, a limited proportion of the extra household expense may be allowable.

9. If both spouses wish to enroll in seminary and seek financial aid at the same time, they must indicate this intention at the time of their applications. Financial aid will be awarded on the basis of the expenses of a combined household.

10. No educational expenses for children are allowable with regard to financial aid. For students in the Master of Divinity degree program, the University and St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School provide significant assistance for dependents attending St. Andrew’s-Sewanee.

11. Childcare expenses are not considered except for daycare for pre-school children of students who are single or geographically single or who have spouses employed outside the School of Theology employment programs.

12. Submit your application to: Seminary Office of Financial Aid, 335 Tennessee Avenue, Sewanee, Tennessee  37383-0001


Extraordinary and Emergency Need

A Sanford Fund loan of $1,000 is available to School of Theology students for extraordinary circumstances. Students may borrow no more than this amount from the Sanford Fund during their seminary years. No justification is required for a Sanford Loan, as long as the student meets the loan requirements. In the event of emergency need, students should first request a loan from the Sanford Fund. The dean may designate funding from other sources if that fund has been used and the student presents evidence of need due to extraordinary circumstances.


Reporting Changes

Students receiving financial aid must report significant changes in their financial situation as they occur during the course of an academic year. In cases where the change impacts the assessment of need, the financial aid award may be increased or reduced. Such adjustments will be made as soon as possible after changes are reported.


Termination of Financial Aid

A student whose performance is evaluated by the faculty of the School of Theology as “inadequate” is not eligible to receive financial aid for the following year. Reinstatement of aid is dependent upon re-acceptance into the graduate program of the School of Theology and a new application for financial aid.


Appeals and Complaints

Appeals and complaints concerning financial aid should be directed to the director of operations, 931.598.1340.