Reimagining Theological Education: Finances

The theme in this series has been innovation as Winebrenner Theological Seminary works to equip leaders for service in God’s Kingdom. As a team, we’ve worked to be more flexible and to remove obstacles toward fulfilling our mission. A key component to reimagining finances in theological education involved lowering the cost for students so one didn’t feel a need to rely on loans to finance his/her education.

Many sources indicate that collectively student loan borrowers in the United States owe over $1.6 trillion. The goal at Winebrenner is to have a student body where there is no longer a reliance on student loans but realize that the decision to incur debt is a personal one. The team at Winebrenner has worked diligently to reduce expenses while recognizing an obligation to employees to provide fair wages and benefits. Arriving at this place, though, hasn’t been without sacrifices; tough decisions have been made.

While not necessarily innovative in the overall realm of payment for services, Winebrenner’s $300 per month charge for a graduate education is certainly innovative. Some time ago, the Winebrenner Board of Trustees committed to a practice of revenue-first budgeting. In other words, establishing anticipated revenue and then adjusting expenses to match the revenue. Winebrenner relies on two (2) main sources of revenue – tuition and contributions. Knowing that a student will pay $1,200 per trimester ($300 per month over four months) for courses and with enrollment projections and planning, Winebrenner can arrive confidently at a value for tuition revenue. Currently, work is taking place to be able to confidently project revenue from contributions.

Winebrenner is committed to delivering a high-quality education at a low, fixed cost. The current pricing structure is one part of that commitment.

– Tom Weaver, Director of Finance

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