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Get a Scholarship: Fund for Leaders

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Fund for Leaders FAQ

We always have a few questions going into a new program or when trying to figure out if a program is the best fit for us. Below are some of the more common questions we have heard regarding Fund for Leaders. We hope we’ll be able to answer some of the ones you personally may have, but don’t worry if we don’t. We’re always around to help you discern if the Fund for Leaders is the right program for you.

What types of scholarships do you offer?

ELCA Fund for Leaders offers four types of scholarships:

  • Full-tuition scholarships (effective fall 2021) will provide $19,000 per year to all recipients, a total value of $56,000 for Master of Divinity students and $38,000 for Master of Arts students over the course of their seminary studies (internship and clinical pastoral education excluded). Our ELCA seminary partners have committed to make up any difference between their actual tuition costs and the amount of our scholarship. In cases where their actual tuition is less than our scholarship, they will apply any difference toward other costs, such as books and fees. New students who will be enrolled full‐time in the upcoming fall semester are eligible to apply. Current ELCA seminary students who will have completed no more than one semester of coursework by the start of the upcoming fall semester are also eligible to apply. Applicants must have received a positive entrance decision or at least begun the process of seeking candidacy for rostered ministry in the ELCA. A full list of eligibility criteria is included with the application. Applications are completed and submitted online through ELCA GrantMaker. Scholarships are awarded to students for the duration of their required seminary coursework, provided they remain in good standing with their seminary and in their candidacy process.
  • Mission developer scholarships are for full-time Master of Divinity, Master of Arts or Theological Education for Emerging Ministry (TEEM) students. Award amounts will be determined based on both the amount of money available, and the number of students selected to receive awards. Students must be nominated by their seminary, in coordination with their synod bishop and the ELCA’s New Ministry Development team, before completing and submitting an application online through ELCA GrantMaker. These scholarships are one-year awards but are automatically renewable for an additional year if the student has another year of studies remaining and remains eligible. Please see full list of eligibility criteria below.  
    Note: Do not complete this application unless you have received an invitation to do so!
  • Federal chaplaincy scholarships vary in value based on funds available and the number of students awarded scholarships each year. These one-year awards have been averaging $4,000 to $6,000 each year and are intended for students attending an ELCA seminary and preparing for ministry as a military, Veterans Administration (VA) or federal prison chaplain. This scholarship is awarded through ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Ministries. Students may complete and submit an application online through ELCA GrantMaker. Please see full list of eligibility criteria below.
  • Synod and congregation scholarships vary in value based on each participating synod’s or congregation’s available funds and the number of students awarded scholarships. In the past, awards have ranged in value from hundreds to thousands of dollars per year. Students nominated by their synod submit an application online through ELCA GrantMaker. Synod scholarships are one-year awards. Please see the full list of eligibility criteria below.  

Do I have to be entranced by my candidacy committee already in order to apply?

To qualify for a Fund for Leaders scholarship, applicants must be in, or have begun, the candidacy process in the ELCA synod where they are active in a congregation or campus ministry. Applicants need not have received a positive entrance decision by the time they submit their FFL scholarship application, but in such cases the applicant’s synod bishop must give permission for the FFL to consider their application. Applicants selected by the FFL to receive a scholarship prior to their receipt of a positive entrance decision will be awarded a provisional scholarship. The provision will be removed upon receipt of a positive entrance decision no later than the end of the applicant’s first semester of full-time study following their receipt of their FFL scholarship.

What if I’m trying to decide between seminary and Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM)?

Perhaps you can do both! By special arrangement with the YAGM program, if you apply for and receive a full-tuition scholarship from ELCA Fund for Leaders, you may defer that scholarship for one full year to participate in the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program. If you receive the full-tuition scholarship and choose the YAGM deferral option, you are guaranteed to receive your scholarship after your YAGM year. You may also apply for the full-tuition scholarship during your YAGM year. If you apply for a full-tuition scholarship but do not receive it, you are welcome to apply again in future years, provided you meet all eligibility criteria.

How do I apply?

Applying for a Fund for Leaders scholarship is easy and continues to get easier. GrantMaker is the ELCA’s program for all scholarships and grants awarded throughout the church, including the Fund for Leaders and any synod or congregational scholarships established through the program.  

In the resource document on this step, you will receive a step-by-step breakdown of how to apply for the Fund for Leaders program, the scholarships offered in GrantMaker, and how to set up an account and finish your application in the GrantMaker program. Meeting deadlines will ensure that you have the funds necessary to attend seminary, so be sure to leave plenty of time to apply!

Read the rest of the Fund for Leaders FAQs here.

Photo by iStock/JakeOlimb


Fund for Leaders FAQ

You've got questions? We've got answers! Here are some of the more common questions about the Fund for Leaders that we hope will clarify our program.
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