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17 Ways to Financially Survive Seminary

At Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, we know that trying to figure out how to afford your theological education can bring a lot of stress. While we are always seeking ways to make seminary affordable for all, there's a number of simple and easy ways you can save money to maximize scholarships and minimize debt. Below are 17 ways to financially survive seminary and ease your stress - and hopefully provide a few laughs as well!


Study Smartly

1. Graduate on Time

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Schedule your classes appropriately to graduate on time. Some scholarships are only awarded for a certain length of time, so keep track of your requirements so you do not have to take out more loans.


2. Don’t Borrow More Than What You Need

The more loans you acquire, the longer you will have to pay loans after graduation. Don’t borrow more than you need. Trust me, your future self will thank you.


3. Ask Your Circle of Support

You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help support your education financially. Ask your church about any scholarships they offer. Also look into your denomination’s foundations and scholarship programs.



Fill out a yearly application for Federal Student Aid. This will help determine your qualification for a variety of loan programs including the Federal Work Study program. For more information go to:


5. Study Groups


Need a change in your studying atmosphere? Plan a study group. This allows you to be social and get prepared for your classes. Make it a potluck and receive double the perks!


6. Study One Night on the Weekend


Another great way to keep up with your studies while saving money is to dedicate a weekend night to studying. This will allow you to stay caught up in class and save your wallet by not going out.


7. Stay in Instead of Going Out

It is good to treat yourself to a night out every once in awhile, but in moderation. Save funds by staying in more. Take a solo self-care night, or invite some friends over for a cheap night in!

8. Book Lending

Books can be expensive and depending on how many classes you take, you may be required to read a lot. So save money by borrowing books from friends, classmates, pastors, professors, and parents. There are many upperclassmen willing to lend or sell their books to incoming students. Also keep an eye out for cheap book sales. Every term Garrett-Evangelical hosts a book sale where students can sell their books at relatively low prices.


9. Libraries

If you can’t borrow books from a friend or find good sales, you can always check out books from the library. Garrett-Evangelical’s Styberg Library has all the books you need for your class on reserve to check out in 2 hour increments, but you can also utilize the local public library or interlibrary loan. For more information and to begin exploring your book possibilities, check out the Styberg Library’s catalog here: Garrett-Evangelical Library. They also have a ton of online resources and tutorials.


Live Simply

10. Budget

Bills, rent, tuition, books, food, entertainment, Netflix, ice cream… the list goes on and on, but your income, unfortunately does not. Creating a budget is the best way to properly plan and use your money. There are plenty of financial planning organizers and apps to help you monitor your spending wisely. One of our favorite financial organizers is Not only does it help you with bills and budgeting, but it allows you set to up categories (food, entertainment, bills, etc.) and it actually shows you how much money you spend in each category. It really keeps everything in perspective.


11. Have a Roommate

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It could be lonely moving into a new city. While it is easy to make quick friends at Garrett-Evangelical, another great way to combat loneliness is by having a roommate. Roommates are like having live in besties always available for late night pizza or milkshake runs. It also doesn’t hurt sharing your housing costs with another person. For more information about Garrett-Evangelical housing, including assistance with finding a roommate, go to: Housing

12. Carpool


Living farther from campus? Want to practice your Carpool Karaoke skills? Ask your classmates if they live in your area and set a carpool schedule. This is a good way to save money on gas and parking fees! If driving isn’t really your thing, many students take advantage of Evanston and the surrounding areas’ great public transportation or bike accessibility. We cannot think of a better way to start your morning than a nice ride up Lake Shore Drive. Don't believe us? Check out this video: Bike Ride Along Lake Shore Drive

13. Potluck

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For some people cooking a full meal can be such a hassle. To spend hours working over a hot stove only to eat alone in your apartment can be so unsatisfying. Why not share the work and share the food? Solution: Potlucks! Potlucks are a good way to spend time with your classmates and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal.  Sharing meals also cuts down on meal costs. One easy go to recipe is Mac & Cheese, have someone bring broccoli or chicken and you have a balanced and easy meal!


14. Enjoy nature

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Fun doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of free activities to do in the city of Evanston and in Chicago, including several free parks and beaches to explore. Go outside; run around; the fresh air and sunshine will do you good! Here is a link to Evanston’s Parks and Recreation page to find out more about park and beach locations:

Have an Income

15. Work Study

Being a student means balancing your studies with your social life, but many students (especially those who like nice things, like pizza or shampoo) need to balance work as well. Working part-time is quite manageable. In fact, many Garrett-Evangelical students qualify for Work Study positions on campus. This may mean working in the Styberg Library, the Writing Center, or the various other offices around campus. Work Study is a convenient way to earn income because your work schedule is created around your class schedule. You also learn valuable professional skills and develop possible contacts for references or your future work. To find out if you qualify for the Federal Work Study program, complete your FAFSA at

16. Babysitting

Are you filled with joy by the sound of giggling children and the pitter-patter of little feet? Do you reminiscence about the good ole’ days of babysitting your younger siblings or the neighbor’s kids? Me neither. BUT, did you know the going rate for babysitters nowadays is pretty decent. So why not spend a couple hours one afternoon or evening making a couple bucks coloring or talking about dinosaurs? Go out and ask your professors or fellow classmates if they have babysitting needs. If want to register as a babysitter in the area you can go to They also have services for pets and senior care as well, if kids aren't really your thing.


17. Tutoring

The experts say that the best way to learn a subject is to teach it to someone else. If you are gifted with great comprehension and the patience of teaching, why not try tutoring? Look for local tutoring opportunities in Evanston. This could mean helping young kids read or assisting high schoolers with their calculus. Garrett-Evangelical also hires students for tutoring services, so you can use your recently acquired exegetical skills to help out a fellow classmate!

A great tutoring organization in Evanston is Y.O.U or Youth & Opportunity United, which provides services and leadership development for area youth. To find out more go to