Good move

I was delighted to read in the new Wheaton magazine that my alma mater has announced a loan-forgiveness fund for alumni who go into full-time intercultural Christian missions (article at the bottom of page 7).

I remember talking about the need for such a fund while I was an undergraduate there. Despite Wheaton's strong missionary tradition, student debt was delaying, and sometimes derailing, the missionary ambitions of a fair number of my fellow students. While Wheaton prided itself on keeping its sticker price low, the actual debt load bearing down on graduates from middle-income families compared unfavorably with many of our peer institutions.

As I started investigating this for an article that never got written, I discovered that there was an increasing awareness of the student debt issue among the various missions agencies, and some were willing to accept candidates before they were debt free (a traditional requirement) and even build student loan repayment into their support package. I also found that it was no big deal to get a loan deferral for a short-term (up to two years) mission experience.

This was all well and good, but as student debt loads kept climbing, there was only so much accommodating agencies could do to make up for the obstacle. I hope and expect that this loan forgiveness program will open doorways to service to grads who would otherwise not have the opportunity. Maybe even some of my classmates from the '90s who are still paying off their loans will be able to take them up on it.


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