“Dollars for Debt” helps 32 EDS grads breathe a little easier

August 3, 2017--Episcopal Divinity School has awarded grants that will reduce the student debt of 32 alumni and alumnae, interim president William Nelsen announced today.

The grants, which ranged in amount from $250 to $9,298 were made through the seminary’s Dollars for Debt program, which is supported by the Lilly Foundation. EDS awarded $98,265, and each applicant received slightly more than six cents per dollar of debt. 

"When I received notification a few months ago that I qualified for the program I was skeptical that I would actually receive any funding,” said the Rev. Terrilyn Watts '15, staff chaplain at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.  “I mean, who gives money away? So, I filled out the paperwork, just in case I might get it. You can’t imagine my surprise and elation when I received notice that my student loan provider was going to receive a check.”

Grants were available to students who graduated from EDS with an MDiv, DMin, or MATS degree in the years 2012–2017. These years of eligibility are in keeping with the terms of the Lilly grant.

“Programs like Dollars for Debt demonstrate not only a financial assistance, but that organizations remain committed to helping younger students, especially those who have not yet made their mark in the field, but who aspire to do so in amazing ways,” said Stephen Paul McAllister '17 of New York City.  “Seminary is not always easy. These gifts, and the confidence they demonstrate in seminarians, are a huge help.”

Seven of the applicants are also eligible for $500 to support financial counseling through EDS’ Lifelong Learning budget.

“As a mother of two young children married to someone with significant debt from law school, this was a blessing for our family,” said the Rev. Joslyn Ogden Schaefer '13, rector of Grace Church in the Mountains, Waynesboro, North Carolina. “Between daycare expenses and student debt, it can be quite challenging to make ends meet, even with decently paying jobs. I have benefited directly and indirectly from the Lilly Foundation several times, and I’m so grateful to them and to folks at EDS who made this opportunity possible.”