As a faculty member who teaches a “Faith and Money” course, I have the opportunity to work with and counsel numerous juniors and seniors each year. One of the key assignments I have them work on is the identification of their debt and how to pay it down.

You would be amazed — or perhaps not, if this was you — at how many students have no idea about the ramifications of their college debt. Many of these young men and women want to go into ministry positions, serve on the mission field, do community service or teach, and their debt is going to keep them from doing what they believe God has called them to do. In a very real sense, they become slaves to the debt that they are carrying. The average educational debt in the United States is about $30,000. And many have never researched or calculated the cost of that debt. Yikes!

Perhaps some of you reading this are carrying similar debt from your college experience and wish someone had put a shot across your bow to say “stop!” Well, Biola and Talbot School of Theology are pleased to be partnering with the Lilly Endowment to identify ways to make an education more affordable. The Lilly partnership is funding research with those graduates who want to go into ministry but are carrying debt that will keep them from following their calling. Lilly sees this as a serious concern and one that needs to be answered. We agree, and have put in place several new initiatives that ultimately will help with education affordability.

The first initiative is one we have talked about before but are now aggressively pursuing: We are developing alumni career networking and internships in partnership with the career services department. Services will include an online directory, career opportunity directory and mentorship opportunities.

The second initiative is an upcoming “Hire Biola” campaign, in which we will encourage alumni, parents and friends with open positions in their companies and businesses to hire a Biola graduate. You already know the quality of Biola students’ training and preparation, and now we want to encourage you to “Hire Biola!”

Third is our continued work to develop the scholarships and financial aid that can make a difference for so many of our great students. I encourage you, if you were blessed by your Biola experience, to consider blessing the next generation of Biola students and alumni with financial support or career encouragement.

If you would like more information on any of these programs and would like to join with us in preparing the way for the next generation of Christian leaders who are free from the bondage of debt, you can contact me at

For together we are alumni for life!