U.S.-based student loans stopping you from applying for CSP seminary? There is help

Student loans are one of those unspoken scandals- one which has severely damaged the Catholic Church in terms of vocations.

Young people have attended universities in numbers like never before, as they are told it is the only way to find a good job and it is a good place for personal development: and in their 20s leave with a large debt they have to pay interest on. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in a “Fail to Launch” situation in which they financially struggle, which impacts finding a spouse, being able to afford a home, having a family etc. Student loans on the whole are not “helping”, they have been a curse on the young.

It is estimated that in the United States each year there are 10,000 individuals who are discerning the seminary or religious life, of whom 42% are blocked from doing so because of student debt. Cash strapped dioceses can only afford to pay off so much, and most religious communities cannot afford to absorb the debt. Student loans are a big factor in the US vocations crisis.

Enter the brave heroes of the Laboure Society, who saw this crisis and decided to do something about it: assisting those who have been accepted into seminaries but cannot enter due to their debts. Though their help, many have been able to fulfill their vocational calling. They only deal in US-based student loans, and then only for entry into institutions which are in the Official Catholic Directory.

The average size of a loan they work with is $60,000 (although they have worked with smaller), and the highest has been over $300,000.

In my correspondence with them I had to explain what an Ordinariate was, but their admissions director said they can help aspirants from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter if they meet the following criteria:

1. Official letter of acceptance from the diocese they are discerning with.

2. Letter of recommendation from their parish priest, vocation or spiritual director.

3. Must have US-based loans.

4. Loans must be in good standing and not in a collection agency.

5. Loans must be acquired before entering our program.

6. While participating in our program they must be living in the US.

If accepted by the Chair of St Peter’s seminary and you are assisted by the Laboure Society, you will be required to do the society’s six month course.

If you know someone to whom this information might be helpful, please share it with them. Lets try to break the tragedy of student loans affecting vocations, especially Ordinariate ones.

3 thoughts on “U.S.-based student loans stopping you from applying for CSP seminary? There is help

  1. Pingback: TVESDAY MORNING EDITION – Big Pulpit

  2. A Linkedin article that I found just in my inbox about US companies helping employees with their student loan:

    “Companies step up on student debt

    About 70% of U.S. college graduates are in debt after school, reports CNBC, and now some companies are looking to help. According to the report, hundreds of companies are offering loan assistance to workers as a benefit — a perk being used in the quest to attract top talent. CNBC notes that companies like Fidelity and Gradifi are already on board helping companies offer student-loan repayments as an added benefit along with things like medical and dental insurance. • What’s your take on the new benefit being offered by some companies? Should student loan repayment become as common as 401k matching schemes?”



  3. There is no doubt whatsoever that inappropriate student loans plague many young people today. I know far too many young people who are still working at their college jobs because they have not found employment in the fields of their academic majors that would pay enough to cover their student debts and the cost of basic necessities of life.

    That said, a reactionary backlash that steers our “best and brightest” away from the top tier of colleges and universities would be equally tragic. All of these institutions offer very generous financial aid based upon each student’s need to every admitted student, and that financial aid remains in place for as long as it takes each student to graduate. While the programs may differ in some details from one institution to another, but they are very similar. Here’s how it works at my alma mater).

    >> 1. The Institute’s Financial Aid Office computes the amount that the parents can afford to pay toward higher education based upon financial data submitted to a central clearing house, then divides that figure by the number of siblings who are in college to determine the parental contribution available for each student. The Financial Aid Office announced several years ago that the parental contribution would be ZERO for any family with a total income of $75,000 or less, and there’s no cliff above that figure.

    >> 2. The financial aid office then subtracts the parental contribution from the “all-in” student budget to determine the student’s need. The first $7,500 of need is self-help (meaning that the student is expected to raise it in one way or another — more in this in a moment). If the student’s need exceeds $7,500, the balance is a scholarship grant that the student never has to repay.

    There are several ways to meet the self-help portion of the financial aid package.

    * Scholarships from any outside sources whatsoever, such as an organization in the student’s home town, counts first toward the student’s self-help.

    * Income earned through summer employment or through part time employment during the school year, either on campus or off campus, counts toward the student’s self-help. This includes income from a position as a house tutor (in the dormitory or other living group), a teaching assistant, or a research assistant, which is available to upper classes.

    * Many students take paid internships or externships, the income from which counts toward their self-help.

    * Many students choose to participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), through which undergraduate students — including freshmen — undertake or participate in original research, with the student having the choice of being paid or receiving academic credit (but not both) for the work. (However, a student may undertake two distinct, but potentially related, UROP projects and elect to receive pay for one and academic credit for the other). If the student chooses to receive pay for a UROP project, that pay counts toward the student’s self-help.

    * If a student receives income from any other source, such as patent or copyright royalties or ownership of a business, that income also counts toward the student’s self-help.

    * If the student is on a cooperative work-study program (offered by some departments), the money earned during the semesters when the student works counts toward the student’s self-help.

    * Also, any amount paid out of a student’s personal savings or other assets counts toward the student’s self-help.

    If a student does not generate the entire amount of the self-help portion of the financial aid package, the balance of the student’s self-help would be in the form of a loan that the student would have to repay after graduation. Worst case, if a student takes the entire threshold of $7,500 per year in loans for the entire four years, would be a loan balance of $30,000 — but very few students come close to this. Nevertheless, there’s considerable competition among prospective employers to hire the Institute’s graduates, who consequently receive significantly higher starting salaries than their counterparts graduating from lower tier schools, so even this amount of debt is generally quite manageable.

    I should also note that I have been an alumni interviewer for about fifteen years now, and I have never had an admitted applicant go elsewhere because the financial aid package was not sufficient to close the gap. So if you know any young people get admitted to “top tier” institutions, encourage them to attend and not to think twice about it. The financial aid that they need will be there for them.

    The real problem with student loans arises at second tier institutions that don’t have the means to give generous financial aid to all of their students — and the graduates of which often are not in as much demand in the marketplace. I would never encourage a young adult to borrow over $60,000 per year for four years to attend one of these schools. Even if a student is fortunate enough to find decent employment in his or her chosen field, there won’t be enough paycheck left after the payments on $240,000 or more of student loans to afford the basic necessities, such as a modest apartment, food, and transportation. Instead, the new graduate will face three options: (1) “shack up” with a “significant other” acquired in college so they can share expenses, deferring marriage until they get out of hock and can save up enough to afford a wedding, (2) get together with his or her companions who land work in the same area to rent a home together so they can share expenses, or (3) move back home until he or she can get out from under the debt. The first clearly is not morally acceptable, the third is embarrassing, and the second often is not a happy situation. A couple years ago, I witnessed a young man with considerable promise leave a professional position, with no other job offer, and move back home because the friends with whom he was sharing a home decided to move on and he could not afford housing on his own. Instead, my recommendation to young people who don’t have the means to pay for a college on the second tier is to consider going to college part time while working at a position where they are able to make enough money to pay for it. Yes, it will take twice as long to complete a degree, but they will enjoy financial freedom when — and note that I say “when” rather than “if” — they graduate.

    Another good option, for those who belong in a college or a university, is the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship programs offered by our nation’s armed forces. These programs offer very generous scholarships, albeit often with some restriction of a student’s choice of academic major, but there’s a string attached — the student must agree to accept a commission as an officer (2nd Lieutenant or Ensign) in the respective branch of the armed forces upon graduation and to serve a minimum of four (4) years of active duty. This is not for everybody, but it is worth exploring. The details of the programs differ from service to service, so those who might be interested need to explore each service’s program.

    Finally, as a society, we need to move beyond the attitude that all young people should go to college. There are many young people who simply are not “college material” — and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing a trade through an apprenticeship. Many trades pay very well, and there’s often a lot less cost than that of a college or university. For many young people, this is the right choice.

    And for those who are not “college material,” enlistment in one branch or another of the armed forces also is a very good option. Many young people who enlist go on to learn a trade through the schools operated by the various branches of the armed forces after graduation from either Basic Training or Boot Camp, depending upon the service, and thus acquire skills that are very marketable when they leave the service.



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