Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to our Financial Aid FAQ page, which has been updated as of February, 2016. We hope this question-and-answer format helps you understand our financial aid program here at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTSFW). If you still have questions after reading through this material, please contact the CTSFW Financial Aid Office (firstname.lastname@example.org, 260-452-2151).
A CTSFW tuition grant is available to students who are enrolled in recognized programs leading to ordination as a pastor (M.Div. and A.R. programs) and to certification as a deaconess (M.A. Leading to Deaconess Certification and M.A. in Deaconess Studies through distance learning) in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In order to be eligible for the CTSFW tuition grant or Federal Student Loans in any given term, you must be accepted into your degree (or certificate) program and be enrolled at least half time in that term. The CTSFW tuition grant is not available for courses that are taken beyond those required to complete one's program requirements or for pre-seminary courses.
Students enrolled in programs such as D.Min., M.A., Ph.D. and S.T.M. should consult with the dean of their program to find out about grants, scholarships or graduate assistantships that may be available. D.Min., M.A., Ph.D. and S.T.M. students, who are enrolled at least half time status, are eligible to borrow through the Federal Student Loan Program and to participate in the Federal Work Study Program based upon financial need. Specific Ministry Program (SMP) students are not eligible for the CTSFW tuition grant program, Federal Student Loan Program, or the Federal Work Study Program.
Satisfactory academic progress must be maintained in order to remain eligible for the CTSFW tuition grant or any Federal Student Loans or Federal Work Study. In order to maintain satisfactory academic progress a student must:
- Maintain the minimum required cumulative grade point average for one’s program (see CTSFW Academic Catalogue)
- Complete at least 67% of all attempted credit hours each quarter
- Complete enrolled program in no more than 150% of the normal length of the program measured in terms of attempted credit hours divided by the number of required credit hours for program completion.
All student loan borrowers must first complete the appropriate year FAFSA and the CTSFW Financial Aid application for their program (see question #2 below). New borrowers will also need to complete Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note. Please see the CTSFW Loan Application Process webpage to learn more about the Federal Student Loan Program.
1. How much does it cost to attend Concordia Theological Seminary?
Please refer to the Cost of Attendance page for the answer to this question.
2. How do I apply for financial aid?
Steps 1 and 2 apply to all students seeking a Federal Student Loan or a Federal Work Study job (M.Div., A.R., M.A. Leading to Deaconess Certification, M.A. in Deaconess Studies, D.Min., M.A., Ph.D., or S.T.M. programs) or the CTSFW tuition grant (M.Div., A.R., M.A. Leading to Deaconess Certification, or M.A. in Deaconess Studies programs).
Step 1 Complete and transmit to us your CTSFW Financial Aid application electronically by clicking here. To receive a Direct Loan for summer Greek, or other courses offered during the summer 2016 sessions, you need to submit the CTSFW Financial Aid application and FAFSA for the 2015-16 year. If you take classes during the academic year that begins with the fall of 2016, you must submit a CTSFW Financial Aid application and FAFSA for 2016-17.
Step 2 – Use the online form at www.fafsa.ed.gov to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the appropriate year. You should file your federal tax return before completing your FAFSA. The FAFSA on the web form will include an option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. We STRONGLY encourage you to utilize this option if at all possible. Doing so will ensure the accuracy of your tax data, which will result in a more accurate financial aid award. Remember, you cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool until after your taxes have been submitted. See note below for more details. The CTSFW Federal School Code is G20876.
Please note: The Department of Education will more likely flag your FAFSA for verification if you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or if you file your FAFSA before you file your taxes. If you are selected for verification and you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you will be required to request a copy of your tax transcript from the IRS and provide it to CTSFW before any need-based Federal Student Aid (work study) can be disbursed. In order to allow time for the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to be available to you, allow up to three weeks after an electronic tax return has been filed, or up to eight weeks after a paper tax return is filed. Click here for more information.
[Steps 3 and 4 apply only to those in the M.Div., A.R., M.A. Leading to Deaconess Certification or M.A. in Deaconess Studies programs who qualify for LCMS District and/or congregational aid]
Step 3 – Apply to your LCMS District using the "District Financial Aid Application" (available in PDF), type in your information on Section I, print the form, sign it, ask your pastor to sign it and mail it to us. Do not mail it to your District.We will complete Section II and then forward it to your district. Your district’s application deadline is on the list of District Financial Aid Contact Persons (click here and use the drop down menu to find your district information.) Be sure to check for any notation on whether your district requires any different or additional application steps. Nebraska District students should visit their district website (click here) for instructions and application forms that apply to their financial aid requirements.
We must receive your FAFSA, your CTSFW Financial Aid application, and your "District Financial Aid Application" at least two weeks before your district's deadline in order to have time to forward your application to your district office before the deadline. If you are a new student, please be aware that the seminary and your district cannot process your District Financial Aid application until you have been granted admission to CTSFW, and have submitted your FAFSA and CTSFW Financial Aid application. If you are a returning student, please note that your financial aid deadline is May 1 (or two weeks before your district deadline – whichever comes first).
Step 4 – Ask your pastor and the leaders of your home congregation to support your seminary studies. We will also write on your behalf, asking your home congregation to consider supporting you with gifts totaling $4,500 for the 2016-17 year ($1,500 per quarter). Your congregation may or may not be able to help that much. Ask early in order to give your congregational leaders time to plan for your support. We recommend that congregations send their support shortly before the beginning of each academic quarter to the CTSFW Financial Aid Office with a check payable to “Concordia Theological Seminary” and include the student remittance coupon.
Application Deadlines – If you are a returning student, you must submit your CTSFW Financial Aid application and FAFSA by May 1. This deadline does not apply to you if you are a new student. However, you will miss out on many other scholarship opportunities if you wait too long. Many scholarships have early deadlines. Please see the Outside Scholarship Opportunities webpage for details. Whether you are new or returning, you must submit your district application form to the CTSFW Financial Aid Office at least two weeks before your district deadline. Remember that you must submit your FAFSA and CTSFW Financial Aid application before we can complete the financial aid section of your district form and send it to your district.
If you are applying for admission as a new CTSFW student, you are welcome to submit your financial aid forms before your CTSFW admission application has been accepted. Your financial aid forms will be processed as soon as the CTSFW admission requirements have been met and you are officially accepted.
3. What is the CTSFW tuition grant and how is it calculated?
A CTSFW tuition grant is available to those enrolled in recognized programs leading to ordination as pastors and to certification as deaconesses in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (i.e. M.Div., A.R., M.A. Leading to Deaconess Certification and M.A in Deaconess Studies through distance learning). The tuition grant you receive from the seminary is to offset a portion of the actual tuition charges for each quarter. The maximum CTSFW tuition grant for 2016-17 will be 60% of your actual tuition.
Your tuition grant is calculated by using the ratio of your Expected Family Contribution [EFC] from your FAFSA and your Cost of Attendance [COA].
Your EFC is also used to calculate your Federal Student Loan eligibility. For a free estimate of your EFC, visit the College Board EFC Calculator . Use Federal Methodology (FM) for best results. In order to award your CTSFW tuition grant, we must use your EFC based on a valid FAFSA.
Most of our eligible students (over 80%) qualify for the maximum tuition grant percentage. All other gift aid—home church, district, outside scholarships and student adoption—is added to your tuition grant. We urge you to apply for as many scholarships as you can. See the Outside Scholarship Resources webpage (question #8 below) for possible scholarship opportunities.
4. How can I estimate my costs for the year and know if I will need a Federal Student Loan?
We have prepared a Seminary Cost Estimator to help you with this important and sometimes challenging task. If you’re not sure that you will need to borrow right now, you can still do so later on in the school year. You can also adjust your loan upward or downward, or cancel it altogether later in the year (but before the end of your last academic term for the school year). Keep in mind that, besides tuition, you may have many costs to cover yourself, whether by earnings, savings or loans.
Please note: Bills are available on your student portal sometime during the first week of each quarter and are due at the end of the third week of the quarter; otherwise you will be charged a late payment fee. Your student bill must be paid each quarter in order to be registered for the next academic quarter. Please read the Student Bill Payment Policy for more information.
5. How do I apply for student loans?
After you file your FAFSA and complete your CTSFW Financial Aid application online, you will receive an Award letter that will include a Direct Loan Award sheet and a calculation of your estimated loan eligibility. After receiving your Award letter, return your signed and completed Direct Loan Award sheet to the CTSFW Financial Office. If you are a first-time borrower at CTSFW, you will also need to click on the link to go to our Loan Application Process and follow the steps indicated to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling. Before you can receive a Federal Student Loan, you must have a valid MPN on file with the U.S. Department of Education. Your official loan application is your completed and signed Direct Loan Award sheet that must be returned to the Financial Aid Office each academic year that you desire to borrow. Loan applications for the current award year can be submitted up until the end of your last period of enrollment for the current award year. Loan processing for the 2016-17 award year will begin on July 1, 2016. If you don't immediately need a student loan, please retain your Award sheet to use if you need to borrow later on in the school year.
6. Are short-term loans available?
Yes. If you have a temporary cash-flow problem, but don’t need a Federal Student Loan, we may be able to help. The seminary offers to enrolled students (not on vicarage or internship) a 60-day, interest-free emergency loan for $1,500 or less. There is a charge of 1.5% per month, starting with the loan date, on emergency loans that are not repaid within 60 days. Please contact the CTSFW Financial Aid Office if you need to apply for a short-term emergency loan.
7. Is financial aid available for summer classes?
If you receive the CTSFW tuition grant during the regular academic year, you will also receive the CTSFW tuition grant for your summer classes that you take toward the completion of your degree (with the exception of Summer Greek). No additional application is required if you already submitted your forms for the regular academic year (fall, winter or spring quarters). Your total summer gift-aid will probably be less, since district aid, home congregation gifts, Student Adoptions, and outside scholarships do not normally continue during the summer. Also, please be aware if you use up all of your annual unsubsidized Direct StaffordLoan ($20,500 max, for the academic year) you will have to rely on the Graduate PLUS Loan program (which requires a credit check) if you need to borrow for summer classes.
Please note: There is no CTSFW tuition grant for Greek, Old Testament Bible, or New Testament Bible. The tuition for 2016 Summer Greek is $359 per credit hour; tuition for pre-seminary courses, beginning in the fall of 2016 will be $373 per credit hour.
8. Where can I get information on other scholarships and grants?
We have prepared a list of Outside Scholarship Opportunities, for you. Look over the list, take note of any deadlines, and apply for all of those for which you are eligible. All M.Div. and A.R. students with financial need should consider applying for the Munderloh Foundation scholarship and the Hilda E. Bretzlaff scholarship. Residential deaconess students are also eligible for the Hilda E. Bretzlaff scholarship. All M.Div. and A.R. students from the state of Wisconsin should consider applying for the Siebert Lutheran Foundation scholarship. Please see the Outside Scholarship Opportunities webpage for deadlines and details.
9. Does the seminary have a Work-Study Program?
Yes, the seminary participates in the Federal Work Study program. Numerous on-campus and several community service off-campus jobs are available. All students seeking employment on-campus must be willing to accept Federal Work Study funds as part of their financial aid package (must also complete a FAFSA to show eligibility requirements are met). Some jobs, such as work in the chapel, do not qualify for federal funding. Students hired for these jobs are paid from Institutional Work Study Funds. Students looking for employment on campus must first inquire at the department where they are interested in working (Admissions, Advancement, Athletic Department, Audio-Visual, Bookstore, Education Technology, Exegetical, Switchboard, Systematics, Library, Information Technology, Mailroom, PublicSafety, Student Commons, Food & Clothing Co-op, Dining Hall, or the Gymnasium).
10. How does the Student Adoption Program work?
The CTSFW Financial Aid Officer will match you with a church, church group, or individual wishing to adopt a student. Student Adoption provides supplemental financial support to your regular financial aid and, in addition, gives you the opportunity to "meet new friends" through your thank-you notes, e-mails, or telephone calls with your donors. To participate, please complete the online Application for Student Adoption. Note: M.Div., A.R., and Deaconess students may apply for the Student Adoption Program. When you sign up for Student Adoption you are accepting the responsibility to send thank-you notes and/or letters on a regular basis and at a minimum whenever you receive financial support from your adopters. Students who fail to correspond with their donors will be terminated from the program. You must register online for the Student Adoption Program each year that you participate.
11. How does the Food and Clothing Co-op work?
These significant in-kind resources are separate from your regular financial aid. While they are designed to help families, residence hall students can also utilize the Co-op for such items as snack foods, toiletries and clothing. Families will typically receive 75%, or more, of their food, paper products, baby diapers and other household supplies through the Co-op. The Co-op provides families with high-quality used clothing and household furnishings donated by church members throughout the country. Please visit the Food & Clothing Co-op page for additional information.
12. How does dropping a class or withdrawing from the seminary affect my financial aid?
If you drop a class in the middle of the quarter, all of your seminary tuition grant money for that class will be removed from your account and you will be responsible for any remaining tuition costs (see the Academic Calendar or Academic Catalog for tuition refund rate schedule). If you drop classes with the result that you fall below half-time status (half time is 6 credits for M.Div. and A.R.; 4.5 credits for M.A., M.A. Leading to Deaconess Certification, S.T.M. and Ph.D.; 3 credits for D.Min. and M.A. in Deaconess Studies) you will lose all your CTSFW tuition grant money and any Federal Student Loans will be returned for that quarter. If you withdraw from the seminary during the middle of the quarter, both your seminary grant money and Federal Student Loans are affected. Please click here to read our Return of Financial Aid Funds Policy for Students who withdraw from the Seminary.
13. What are my options for paying my seminary bill each quarter?
Your seminary bill must be paid each quarter in order to be able to attend class the following quarter. Bills are due three weeks after the quarter begins. See the Academic Calendar for the specific due dates. Students who do not pay their bills by the published due date will be charged a late payment fee of $150 per quarter. For students who are enrolled only for intensive courses which begin later on in the quarter, your bill is due on the first day the intensive class begins. Payments are to be made at the CTSFW Cashier’s window in the Werner Administration Building. Students can pay by cash, check or credit card. Those students who want a student loan must have their Direct Loan award sheet returned to the CTSFW Financial Aid Office in order for the loan to be processed. Please allow at least two weeks for a loan to be processed and the loan money to be disbursed to your student account. One additional payment option is to use the Joyful Response Tuition Payment Plan. Joyful Response is a plan where you designate a certain amount to be deducted from your personal checking or savings account each month for three months during the quarter to pay your seminary bill. The amount you designate will be divided into three equal payments that will automatically be deducted from your checking or savings account on the same day of each month. You must choose an amount that will have your bill paid in full after the third payment is made. Also, it is advisable to choose an amount that is divisible by three. You must submit a Joyful Response Tuition Payment Plan form for each quarter that you want to participate. There is a $25 fee per quarter to participate in this payment plan. The forms can be downloaded here (Spring Quarter 2015-16, Fall Quarter 2016-17, Winter Quarter 2016-17, Spring Quarter 2016-17)and must be completed and returned to the CTSFW Financial Aid Office by the required due dates. The 2015-16 Spring Quarter form is due by March 18, 2016. The forms for the 2016-17 academic year are due as follows: Fall - Sept. 9, 2016; Winter - Dec. 5, 2016; Spring - March 15, 2017. The signed original form must be returned, no faxes or scanned copies, along with a voided check or savings deposit slip attached. After submitting your voided check or savings deposit slip once, you do not need to re-submit them again with future forms unless your banking account numbers have changed. Please contact the Financial Aid Office if you have questions.
14. What are my options for repaying my student loans?
In order to avoid making payments while attending CTSFW, new students should contact their loan servicer(s) to request an educational loan deferment if you have previous unpaid student loans. The CTSFW Registrar will need to verify your enrollment for the loan deferment request form. You do not have to begin repaying your Federal Student Loans until you leave school (graduate, withdraw or take a leave of absence) or drop below half-time status in your enrollment. Vicarage and deaconess internship should not cause your loans to go into repayment. Please contact your loan servicer(s) if you receive payment notification during your vicarage or deaconess internship year. There are several repayment plans available: Standard, Graduated, Extended, Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn, Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), and Income-Sensitive Repayment. The repayment period can vary in length of time from 10 to 25 years, depending upon the plan you choose. Please go to the Federal Student Aid website to review your options. For information on whether or not you may qualify for loan forgiveness in the Income Based Repayment (IBR) or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, please click here or visit www.studentloans.gov. According to the Federal Student Aid website (Q 54), if you work for a non-profit organization, your employment will not qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness for time spent in duties related to religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing. Remember that extending your repayment plan or decreasing your payment amounts usually increases the amount of interest you pay over time.
15. What about Professional Judgment for exceptional circumstances?
The CTSFW Director of Financial Aid may, on a case-by-case basis, make adjustments to a student’s Cost of Attendance based upon the student’s actual expenses when they exceed the regular budgeted amounts. Students must provide documentation to the Director of Financial Aid showing the need to make adjustments to the categories listed for their program’s published Cost of Attendance, such as the cost for the purchase of a computer needed for educational purposes. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have questions.
16. What about returning any extra or unused loan funds?
The CTSFW Financial Aid Office will cancel any unwanted loan funds prior to the day of disbursement if the student notifies the Financial Aid Office in writing or by email. The Financial Aid Office sends out a notice at least two weeks before the next loan period payment is made. The student is asked to respond to that notice if he or she wants to change the scheduled loan disbursement amount. Once a loan disbursement has been made to the student’s account, the Financial Aid Office is not obligated to return the funds to the lender, and the student will need to make other arrangements to return unwanted loan funds through his or her own loan servicer(s). Students are often able to return funds to their loan servicer(s) by ACH debit from their checking or savings account. Contact your loan servicer to find out the best method to return unused funds. Loan funds returned before 120 days after disbursement will not have any fees and interest charged. Contact information for loan servicers is found on the NSLDS website. Please contact the Financial Aid Office if you have questions.
Updated: February 2016