Financial Aid

SFTS provides financial aid assistance to approximately 85% of our MDiv, MATS, and SFTS/GTU/MA students.

Seminary education is an investment in your future and it is essential to have a realistic assessment of how you will pay for it. This guide will assist you in understanding the various forms of financial aid available. It is important to us to work with you to help make your graduate theological education possible.

SFTS offers a variety of ways to assist you with graduate program costs for our masters degree programs, through academic-merit scholarships and need-based grants, as well as the federal student loan program. We urge you to schedule an appointment with one of our staff for a personal conversation if you have any thoughts or questions. We’re here for you.

Sarah C., MDiv

Though I felt clearly called to come to seminary and pursue ordination in the PC(USA), I felt very anxious about going into debt. Finding out that I had been offered a scholarship from SFTS gave me the peace of mind I needed to take the leap and answer the call to ministry. I’m so appreciative of the support from all the organizations that have given so generously to me.

Sarah C., MDiv

Making Sense of Need-Based Financial Aid

To qualify, you must show that you need financial aid. Need is the difference between what it costs to attend San Francisco Theological Seminary and what you and your family can afford to pay toward that cost.

Cost of attendance includes direct educational costs (tuition, books and supplies) as well as living costs (meals, housing, transportation and personal expenses). Your expected contribution is determined by a process called federal need analysis, which takes into account family size, income, assets, age and other factors. Don’t forget that missing critical deadlines may affect your eligibility for a grant or scholarship.

SFTS Scholarships

Presidential and Alumni Scholarships are awarded each year to new and returning students in the M.Div. program who demonstrate leadership in the Church and other forms of service, strong academic performance, and promise for ministry. This aid is based on your academic achievement and/or other criteria such as community involvement and outstanding service.

  • Recipients of the Presidential Scholarship receive 100% tuition coverage for the three years of their studies at SFTS.
  • Alumni Scholarship recipients receive between 70-80% of tuition for each year of their program.
  • Scholarships are renewable over the course of the student’s studies at SFTS, as long as the student remains in good academic standing.

Eligibility requirements:

  • M.Div. student
  • Enrolled in at least 9 units each semester
  • Making satisfactory academic progress (continuing students)
  • Paying tuition

SFTS Need-Based Grants

Need-based grants* are institutional aid provided to help you with the cost of tuition. Your need is determined based on the information supplied in the SFTS financial aid application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • Need-based grants cover up to 65% of the cost of tuition per semester for M.Div. and MATS students, based on the student’s need.
  • GTU MA students may also receive need-based grants of up to 50% of the Graduate Theological Union MA tuition.
  • Need-based grants are not available for M.Div. students already receiving a Presidential or Alumni Scholarship.

Eligibility requirements:

  • M.Div. and MATS students at SFTS, and MA students at GTU
  • Enrolled at least half-time (6 units per semester)
  • Making satisfactory academic progress (continuing students)
  • Paying tuition

*Need-based grants are not available for D.Min. or unclassified students, GTU summer school tuition, or other off-campus instruction such as Clinical Pastoral Education.

Federal Direct Loan Program

San Francisco Theological Seminary participates in the Federal Direct Loan program, as administered through the Graduate Theological Union.

Through the Direct Loan program, an eligible graduate student may borrow pursuant to a federal direct unsubsidized loan to help finance the cost of education, including the costs for books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and other expenses that are part of the official cost of attendance.

If you are considering student loans as a part of the way that you plan to pay for seminary, it is important to understand the interest and repayment obligations. The interest rate for a Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan disbursed on or after July 1, 2016 is fixed at 5.31%. Interest accrues (accumulates) on an unsubsidized loan from the time it is first paid out. The interest may be paid while the borrower is in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, or the interest may accrue and be capitalized (that is, added to the principal amount of the loan). Choosing not to pay the interest as it accrues will increase the total amount a borrower will have to repay. Accrued interest is capitalized once the loan enters repayment. Repayment begins 6-months after a borrower graduates or otherwise drops below half-time enrollment.

The Direct Loan Program offers several repayment plans that are designed to meet the different needs of individual borrowers. Generally, borrowers have 10 to 25 years to repay a loan, depending on the repayment plan that is chosen. A borrower will receive more detailed information about repayment options during the required student loan entrance and exit counseling sessions.

SFTS encourages its students to explore all non-loan sources of financial support before undertaking student loans. The financial aid offices of both the Graduate Theological Union and SFTS are available to help students understand the loan application, disbursement, and repayment process.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen (permanent resident)
  • Be working toward a degree or certification
  • Be registered with Selective Service (if required)
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress
  • Not be in default or owe a refund on a federal grant or federal loan
  • Be enrolled at least half-time

For Federal Direct Loan Program only, contact: Graduate Theological Union – Financial Aid Office, 2400 Ridge Road (mailing address), Berkeley, CA 94709, 510-649-2469, fax 510-649-1730, email finaid@gtu.edu.

International Students

As an international student, you are eligible to apply for SFTS Merit Scholarships and need-based tuition grants, which may be counted towards your financial resources on the I-20. Detailed information about visa I-20 requirement can be found in the International Student Handbook.

SFTS Financial Aid Handbook

Download the SFTS Financial Aid Handbook, which includes guidelines and requirements for SFTS scholarships, grants, and Federal Direct Loans.

Other SFTS Aid

You many also benefit from other forms of assistance from SFTS, including:

  • Subsidized on-campus housing
  • Contact with home churches and governing bodies, at your request
  • Subsidies for short-term use of the Lloyd Counseling Program
  • Emergency, short-term, no interest loans
  • Placement in on-campus jobs as available
  • Budget counseling
  • Information about other sources of grants and loans

Other Financial Aid Opportunities

PC(USA) Financial Aid for Studies

As a PC(USA)– related school, SFTS participates in the PC(USA) grant and loan programs. Students with remaining need who have been certified as Inquirers or Candidates in their presbytery may apply for grants through the denomination. Racial Ethnic students may be eligible for additional grant money. For PC(USA) students who require a small loan, the Office of Financial Aid for Studies of the PC(USA) also offers assistance.

Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation Apollos Scholarship

Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation Apollos Scholarship  provides substantial scholarship support for M.Div. students available each year. The award offers a maximum of $3,000 per year with a maximum total of $9,000 over a three-year enrollment in a Master of Divinity, Master of Arts or Dual degree program. Named scholarships are awarded with an annual maximum of $6000 and a total maximum of $18,000 over a three-year enrollment period. Applicants must be a member of a Presbyterian Church (USA), under the care of a presbytery as a Candidate or Inquirer, possess qualities of excellence for ministry and be a full-time student enrolled in a Master of Divinity degree.

Disciples Seminary Foundation

Disciples Seminary Foundation offers generous financial support in scholarships for covenanted students at our partner schools. At SFTS, all masters degree students receive 100% tuition scholarships – 60% from SFTS and 40% from DSF. For more information, please contact Rev. Clarence Johnson at 415.451.2870, cjohnson@dsf.edu or visit www.dsf.edu.

Fund for Theological Education Fund Finder

Another great listing for finding funding sources aimed at theological students is the Fund for Theological Education Fund Finder.

FTE Leaders

For more scholarship listings, please see the FTE Leaders website.

Finaid, the smart student guide to financial aid

Finaid is a general financial aid information page that contains a comprehensive guide about types of financial aid.

Applying for Financial Aid: Scholarships and Need-Based Grants

  1. Complete and return the appropriate SFTS Financial Aid Application to the Director of Student Services at SFTS.
  2. If you are a domestic student you must also complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Enter the SFTS federal school code of G01279 in the “School” section of the FAFSA.
  3. International Students: Submit copies of your bank statements for the past three months with your application. Statements are required for each and any bank accounts that you use or will use to fund your tuition and/or living expenses.
  4. Returning students, please submit all application materials by the priority deadline of April 15. Prospective students applying for admission are encouraged to submit their financial aid materials during the application process, and no later than May 15.

If you are a returning student, who wishes to renew your current need-based grant or scholarship, you must submit the applicable year’s SFTS Financial Aid Application by the priority deadline mentioned above.

If you are engaged in a full-time internship for one or two semesters in addition to your six semesters of course work, you are not charged tuition for those semesters and thus are not eligible for SFTS need-based grants or scholarships.

If your plans for the current academic year are not clear because you do not yet know how you will fulfill your internship requirement, you may apply for a tuition grant (scholarship or need-based aid) to assist with paying full tuition, in case you take a full course load one or both semesters. You must notify us as soon as you have found a placement as a full-time intern; your aid will be adjusted accordingly.

Scholarships and Need-Based Grants Forms:

Domestic Students Financial Aid Form

International Students Financial Aid Form

FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid (school code of G01279)

Applying for Financial Aid: Federal Loans

If you are a domestic student or U.S. permanent resident and wish to apply for federal student loans in addition to SFTS grants and scholarships:

  1. Please complete the appropriate GTU Financial Aid Application (Northern California/Southern California) and submit it to the GTU Financial Aid Office, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA 94709. Links to forms are listed below.
  2. You must also complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Enter the SFTS federal school code of G01279 in the “School” section of the FAFSA.
  3. Returning students, please submit all application materials by the priority deadline of April 15. Prospective students applying for admission are encouraged to submit their financial aid materials during the application process, and no later than May 15.

Federal Loan Forms

GTU Financial Aid Application for Domestic students

FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid (school code of G01279)

Keep a copy of all submitted forms for your records and remember that the total amount of aid you are offered, including grants, loans, scholarships, and outside aid may not exceed the amount of your cost of attendance. The cost of attendance is the estimated amount needed to cover expenses during the school year, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

Borrowing at SFTS

Once the GTU Consortial Financial Aid office receives your GTU Financial Aid Application and FAFSA results, you will receive Financial Aid Award letter from the Consortial Financial Aid Office. This letter will list your SFTS tuition grant and any scholarship you may be awarded, as well as your eligibility to borrow through the Federal Direct Loan Program. To request a loan, please follow the instructions that will be sent to you by the Consortial Financial Aid Office with your award letter.

VA Benefits

Enrollment certification for veterans using benefits to finance their degree programs is handled by the GTU Consortial Registrar’s Office. If you have any questions about veterans’ benefits, please contact John Seal, GTU Consortial Registrar, at jseal@gtu.edu. At SFTS, contact finaid@sfts.edu, 415-451-2824, 800-447-8820 x824, fax 415-451-2852.

For further information, please contact:

Stephanie LaMonaca, Director of Student Services and International Programs

slamonaca@sfts.edu | 415.451.2824 | toll free 800.447.8820 x824 | fax 415.451.2852

Quick Links:

Jhanderys D., MATS/MDiv

The scholarship experience here was amazing! The people were very friendly, informative, clear and helpful. Coming from a country [the Dominican Republic] with limited resources and as an international student with no access to US federal grants, a full scholarship to SFTS made it possible for me to pursue my studies here.

Jhanderys D., MATS/MDiv