July 8, 2015

College debt prevents some from pursuing vocation

brianna-storyby Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Parents and students have heard this pitch for decades: A higher education is the best investment you can make in your future.

Maybe that’s true. But here’s one thing that is definitely true: The debt arising from gaining a higher education can cripple your future.

According to an Aug. 7, 2013, article in Forbes magazine, federal student loan debt totals $16.7 trillion. Because of this debt, young adults are delaying important milestones in life: getting married, having children and buying a house.

And here’s another one you probably haven’t thought about: Student loan debt has become a barrier to young adults joining a religious order or going into the seminary.

That’s right — student loan debt is a vocations killer.

In February 2012, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington released a report on educational debt and vocations to religious life.

Included among the findings of the CARA report:

  • One third of serious inquirers had educational debt at the time of their inquiry. This came out to 4,328 serious inquirers with an average debt of $28,000.
  • Seven in 10 religious institutes surveyed — 69 percent — turned away at least some inquirers because of their educational debt.

For Briana Murphy, these aren’t just statistics. They’re her life.

Murphy, a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison in December 2014 with a bachelor of arts degree in theology.

Murphy began to sense a call to religious life late during her high school years. Later, while attending Benedictine, she learned about an Argentine- based religious order called the Servidoras — the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara.

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