If you want to learn more about ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarships, the eligibility criteria and the application process, you’ve come to the right place!
We recommend that you start your inquiry by reading about the four types of scholarships offered by ELCA Fund for Leaders and their respective eligibility criteria.
ELCA Fund for Leaders offers four types of scholarships:
There are set periods of time each year during which ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship applications are accepted. Please note that applications — particularly applications for full-tuition scholarships — require multiple documents and may take several weeks to complete. Please begin early to allow time for submission!
For scholarships that will be awarded for the 2023-2024 academic year:
We seek people who are passionate about Jesus Christ, spiritually grounded, ecumenically oriented and committed to growing their leadership capacity in an increasingly complex world. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding leadership potential and be exceptionally gifted in ministry, innovation, creativity, and other qualities that will make them successful leaders for a changing church. All applicants must plan to be enrolled at an ELCA seminary during the coming academic year and must be pursuing rostered ministry in the ELCA. The following eligibility criteria apply for specific scholarship types:
To remain eligible for Fund for Leaders scholarships, students must continue to be in good academic standing with their seminary and must be proceeding as expected with their candidacy committee. First-year full-tuition scholarship recipients must receive a positive entrance decision from their candidacy committee by the end of their first semester to continue to receive funding.
TEEM students are eligible for TEEM scholarships, Mission Developer scholarships and Synod and Congregation scholarships (amounts vary each year).
For your application, you will be required to provide the following materials:
Other supporting materials that are required for application but must be submitted separately by third parties include the following. (NOTE: The application deadline applies to these materials as well; please plan your time accordingly.)
Each type of Fund for Leaders scholarship has its own selection process.
Lutheran-year students are eligible for synod and congregational scholarships for the required coursework they complete at an ELCA seminary. Student must have applied to an ELCA seminary as an affiliated student and have been accepted.
Fund for Leaders scholarships can be used at any of the seven ELCA-affiliated seminaries. Fund for Leaders scholarships cannot be used at non-ELCA seminaries or divinity schools. The ELCA seminaries are:
Vocational discernment resources and more information about all seven ELCA seminaries can be found here.
Fund for Leaders scholarships may be used for the following types of programs:
If you have questions about the eligibility of a special academic program, or if your program is not listed here, contact us at FundforLeaders@elca.org.
Although Fund for Leaders awards are intended primarily to pay for tuition, books and fees, students who receive full-tuition support through their seminary or the Fund for Leaders may also receive Fund for Leaders synod, congregational, and/or Federal Chaplaincy Ministries scholarships to help with additional expenses. Note that scholarship funds used to cover costs beyond tuition, books and fees (such as room and board, insurance, etc.) may count as taxable income to students. Students receiving scholarships are encouraged to work with seminary financial aid offices to ensure there is a clear understanding of any tax implications of such scholarship awards.
If you transfer, your Fund for Leaders scholarship will follow you to any other ELCA seminary. If you transfer to a non-ELCA-affiliated seminary or divinity school, your scholarship will be discontinued. This is true of any scholarship type.
ELCA seminaries have differing scholarship and financial aid policies. Some seminaries guarantee full-tuition scholarships to some or all of their students; in those cases, it may still be to a student’s advantage to apply for other scholarships such as those offered by the Fund for Leaders. Please check with your seminary’s admissions and financial aid team for details.
The following FFL scholarships are designed to be additive to support students who have other scholarships which cover their tuition costs: Mission Developer, Federal Chaplaincy Ministries, Synod or Congregation and Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM). Note that scholarship funds used to cover costs beyond tuition, books, and fees (such as room and board, insurance, etc.) will count as taxable income to students.
For all scholarship types, Fund for Leaders sends payments twice per academic year (fall semester and spring semester) directly to your ELCA seminary in your name. These payments occur automatically for all scholarship awards, and you need not request them. Fund for Leaders staff communicate with seminary staff to verify continued student eligibility and ensure that the current amounts of scholarship funding reach the right students at the right times. Please note that Synod Congregation, TEEM and Federal Chaplaincy Ministry Scholarships are one-year awards and require an application each year.
In order 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. In such cases, the applicant’s synod bishop must give their permission for FFL to consider their application. Applicants selected by 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.
If you applied for and received the scholarship in good faith and later discern that the Holy Spirit and the church are not calling you to rostered ministry, you will not be required to repay the funds already granted to you. However, your scholarship will be immediately discontinued.
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. It is also possible to apply for the full-tuition scholarship during your YAGM year. If you apply for a full-tuition scholarship and do not receive it, you are welcome to apply again in future years, provided you meet all eligibility criteria.