Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Paradox of Dave Ramsey and Christian College Tuition

When I decided to attend a Christian College, unlike most of my peers, my mother was the first to try to discourage me. Not because she isn't a Christian, but because of the sky high tuition rates such institutions charge. Private Christian colleges are expensive. Very expensive.

Many who are concerned with such costs dismiss those concerns by telling themselves that God will surely make a way for them to attend since they are stepping out in faith and demonstrating their devotion to learn more about his word. (Count the Christian culture cliches in that sentence. ) Many Christian colleges also market to prospective students with such concerns or potential alumni donors by filling their marketing materials with similar phrases.

This isn't very surprising. But I do find it confusing in light of another Evangelical trend.

Dave Ramsey
I struggle to reconcile such fervent marketing of costly education coming from the same people who adore Dave Ramsey and all of his financial teachings.

For those who are unfamiliar, Dave Ramsey is American Evangelical Culture's most beloved financial guru. Most AEC churches regularly offer his "Financial Peace University" class. They learn about "debt snowballs," cutting spending, and buying big bargains - all dressed up in shiny biblical language.

Although I respect the idea of helping people get out of debt and don't necessarily diagree with all of Ramsey's teachings, there is a lot of legitimate concern over whether such classes (and their encouragement to save wealth to "live like no one else") should be presented as Christianity. That's a fair and productive debate to have. But I'm not here to present such a debate. (If you want to discuss that issue more, SCCL brought up the topic recently.)

I want to present a different question that confuses me. How can the same culture that embraces Dave Ramsey's teachings on avoiding and getting out of debt continue to encourage their kids to take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt that will take years to pay off all in the name of "Christ-centered education?" What sort of cognitive dissonance allows them to embrace both ideas?  Am I the only one confused by this?

Disclaimer: I obviously have a horse in this race, since I really regret the amount of debt I incurred from attending such a college and don't think that it was worth it at all. If I had to do it all over again, I would choose a much cheaper public university. But that's a topic for another post...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting. I too agree that there is a problem in our "christian" culture when we are telling our kids that you need to use your money wisely and be good stewards of our money and yet we allow them to pay astronomical rates for College at a Christian college. For one their education is not necessarily better then a public school, secondly their is this idea that Christians need a "Christian" education to properly serve the Kingdom. How ridiculous is this? I mean where does it say in the Bible you must go to seminary to win souls for Christ? I thought rather it talked about your character and you fruit? I myself went to a Christian college and not once did someone talk about my character. Accountability, and discipleship were absent. If it wasn't for prayer in classes, an occasional Bible verse or depending on the class the actual content of examining scripture similar to how you would examine any other piece of literature I would not have known I was in a Christian College, because the truth is the people lacked character. If I am going to pay for my children to go to a Christian college I would hope that it would be equipping them to share the gospel and most importantly to leave with better character and fruit then when they got there along with a solid education so that they could serve in the work place as true equals to those around them, rather then looking for jobs month or years after graduation because sadly their college left them ill equipped. I could go on but I think you get the idea....