When it comes to the cost of Christian college, and my opinion of how much is too much, I’m seated pretty comfortably on the fence. Is it really worth it? There are valid arguments on both sides. I attended Biola, which is $34,498 annually, so I feel qualified to speak on this. I did have an academic scholarship for part, and help from my parents. Still, I graduated with enough debt to give me a small panic attack every time I think about it—which is often.
In past articles on the this I’ve preached financial awareness, and that’s something I’ll advocate for now. When it comes to a Christian college, you are paying for the experience. That’s going to cost you. I don’t regret my choice, but I will say that the only mistake I made was not being aware. If you know how much you’re paying, you might be more involved. If you know how much you’re paying, you’ll think twice about ditching class. If you know how much you’re paying, you’ll be more grateful in each moment—big or small.
I thanked my parents after the fact, for encouraging me to pick a school I wanted, regardless of the cost. I’m still thankful to them, because they didn’t even roll their eyes when I picked English as a major, which is considered unmarketable. They’re just those people. But now, looking back, I wish cost had been a part of the conversation. It isn’t the only factor, but it is a factor.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the average tuition cost at a private institution in 2013-2014 was $30,090. Compare that to the average tuition cost of $8,893 in public institutions. That’s a huge difference, and it’s something to consider. Think about what you want your four years to look like, what’s practical for you and your family, and if Christian college is even an option.
I chose Biola. That was my personal journey. I met a professor who encouraged me in my writing, and I can’t imagine that I’d be where I am today without that experience. On the flip side, I could have easily have gone to a different school. Of course I wouldn’t be in the exact place I am today, but where I could have ended up isn’t bad either. God would have worked through that choice too. Don’t be anxious, there isn’t a wrong choice.
You know what’s more important than Christian vs. Public? Your personal relationship with God. No matter where you end up, whether there are chapel services daily or not, the responsibility of putting time into your relationship with God is totally up to you. I had semesters where I was distant from God, this in the midst of required chapels, Bible courses and Bible studies on my hall. Surrounded by opportunities to connect, I chose not to. It was up to me to put in the effort to connect, and that’s true no matter where you end up.
Really, when it comes to the question of “Is a Christian College Worth the Money?” I don’t think there’s a right answer. It can be. Not to quote Hannah Montana or anything, but life’s what you make it. (So let’s make it rock!) Make a decision, and then make the best of that decision. Talk to your family and pray about it. I won’t lie to you and say that there will be a shining light guiding you to the right choice. I half expected that when everyone promised me, “You’ll know. Just ask God.” What I will say is that walking Biola’s campus and thinking about the next four years of my life, I felt peace. It was as simple as that.
You know you, and God knows you. He knows the choice you’re going to make before you even make it. The best part? He’s going to make it good, so good. Better than you can ever imagine. If you end up going to Christian college, it’s going to be key in your individual journey. Yes, you’ll pay more, but that’s okay. Use that as a reminder to treat every day as a gift. And if you end up going to a Public college, that’s going to be key in your individual journey. Seek God daily and enjoy every day, it too is a gift.
It’s a debate for a reason; there are two distinct sides. I can’t say I fall on either one. So, from my seat on the fence, I encourage you, keep aware, look at yourself as an individual, and make your choice. He’s on your side.