Two new endowed scholarship funds launched during Convocation and Reunions 2010

Two new endowed funds were announced during Convocation and Reunions 2010—“The 8 Decades of Women Endowment Fund,” and “The Class of 1985 Endowed Scholarship Fund.”  This year’s Convocation & Reunions was the occasion for both the 25th reunion of the Class of 1985 and the special celebration of women at YDS.

Talitha RoysterIn the case of both funds, donations will be used for student scholarships, Yale Divinity School’s highest funding priority.

Despite difficult financial times, it remains the aim of YDS to provide scholarships meeting increasingly greater portions of student financial needs, including both tuition and living expenses.

YDS prepares students for demanding professions of service that are richly rewarding on a personal level, but such positions frequently offer relatively low financial compensation.  The School has managed to keep tuition substantially below other graduate programs at Yale. Even so, the approximate total annual cost of attending is $39,000 per year, including tuition, fees, and living expenses, and about 96 percent of Yale Divinity students  must borrow money to fund their seminary education.

The new scholarships will be established once contributions reach $50,000.  At that point, interest only will be distributed annually, in perpetuity, for use as annual need-based scholarship for current YDS students.

OakAlumni are invited to make contributions “in honor” or “in memory” or “in celebration” of a special person or event.  A number of pledges and payments were made during Convocation & Reunions week, honoring former YDS professors— in one case “all my teachers”—and loved ones. 

Addressing the fundamental issue of student debt has been a primary focus of the Divinity Tomorrow five-year capital campaign since its launch in 2006, and donors have been responsive.  Of the $30.1 million raised to date under the campaign, over one-third is designated for scholarship assistance.  Even so, with the global economic downtown, the School has seen an unprecedented growth in student need that has outpaced its endowment resources.

Five years ago, only 68 percent of the graduating class held loans. The average total indebtedness was $38,000, of which $27,000 had been borrowed during the students’ time at Yale Divinity School. The average total indebtedness of students in the 2009 graduating class was almost $47,000, with $35,670 borrowed during Yale days—an increase of more than 32 percent. The average of the top decile of indebtedness among that group was $94,522.

While some congregations and denominations provide financial support to students pursuing ordination, in some instances the prospect of considerable debt can hinder the Divinity School’s efforts to recruit the most promising applicants and to maintain a diverse student body. And, for graduates embarking on a life of service and sacrifice, loan debt can be a significant burden that affects their career decisions, family security, and ability to pursue further study.

Constance Royster '72 B.A., director of development at YDS, said, "YDS is very grateful for the long tradition of endowed funds, and especially in this case to the Class of 1985 in honor of its 25th reunion and the donors celebrating this year's Women's Reunion with "The 8 Decades of Women Endowment Fund."

Contributions to the funds can be made as donations, pledges, planned gifts, or bequests.