There is a small university in the boondocks of the southern United States. It’s name is the University of Mobile, its mascot is the ram, and it is a wonderfully small campus containing all the necessities of work and leisure. It features a gorgeous eight hundred acre plot of land, most of it uncultivated and untouched by human hands. It is complete with a native swamp, trails for hiking and biking, a golf driving range, an open field perfect for ultimate frisbee, and dozens of locations where the dewberries grow thickly.
The academic courses are pretty strong, the professors are active in the lives of their students, and the quality of afterhours study assistance is sufficient for even the most preposterous final exam. They truly are a topnotch school, just on a smaller scale than public colleges, and your education here will be less of a hassle with the student-to-teacher ratio being so astronomically low. Really, you won’t go wrong here.
But then again, you might. There is just one little issue standing between you and this wonderful four-year experience and education: $$$. Lots and lots of it.
Of course, this might not be as much of a problem if you score a 32 on your ACT and write tons of brilliant essays to scholarship organizations. But for the vast majority of us, we are looking at being in the financial hole – for the rest of our lives, if not longer!
The current tuition rating, which can be seen here, is about $640 per undergraduate credit hour. Just to provide a measuring stick, the main public college of Mobile boasts of an average of $275 per credit hour for undergraduates instate, a rate much lower for all of the same fixings – minus the outdoorsy atmosphere and small-town quiet campus. This amount adds up to $162,340, over the course of four years, including the mandatory one-year stay on campus – and this amount does not include your other three years of food and housing and gas, parking and technical fees, and several other mandatory fees that are so mysterious and obscure that you’d have to have the highest level security clearance to find out about it.
To each his own, I think to myself, as this price may not really scare you off considering the peaceful atmosphere of learning you will be walking into with U of M. No doubt about that. It has to cost that much, considering the college’s unsubsidized nature and ability to be free from the governmental powers at be (to an extent). All in all, it could very well be a good price. Fair enough.
There is another side of the equation that needs to be understood as well, however. Unsurprisingly, U of M is a private Christian university. I happen to know that they require classes in religious teaching to graduate – classes in which they give you a free indoctrination into what is “right” and “wrong” in accordance with their own doctrine and beliefs (and campus rules – both social and regulatory).
Don’t get me wrong, however. I am not here to debate their Christian beliefs or practices – let them do what they like in our free country! I Just want to tell you that they are Christian, and just how Christian they really are. My reason for sharing this information is to show how entwined they are with their own religious belief system – and not just them, but thousands of other universities just like them.
Their Bible teachers are passionate about what they believe. They produce powerful sermons and moving testimonies. At their weekly religious meeting you will experience alter calls and public prayers and professional musicians and singers and dancers and painters and all of the like. The arts is a major college of their university, and it is no wonder that it is so entwined in their religious lives. You will have ample opportunities to take part in their religious ceremonies and festivals which are spaced throughout each semester sporadically. There are a plethora of campus-run church meetings, and exponentially more student-run activities. Some preach hell-fire and brimstone, and still others preach peace, love, and repentance. Bearing all this in mind, the University doesn’t squander its time or money on anything other than education and religion. It’s their way to be good stewards of the money given to them, right?
All in all, U of M is, as I have said, a top-quality university which heavily emphasizes their Christian religious beliefs and provides you ample opportunity to become entwined with them in whichever way and to whatever degree that you so desire, aside from the mandatory Bible classes. They are Christians through and through, regarding the Bible as the highest source of information in the world. It is the pinnacle of all of their learning and teaching and preaching.
But, alas, this is where the monkey wrench gets thrown in. It’s a little word called loans, a topic found explicitly in the Bible and often ignored by its readers. And it’s not just U of M that is victim of this compliance failure; it’s every top-notch private Christian university, and several Christian organizations that exist to capitalize or support the capitalization of the poor man’s plight.
Let’s review what the Bible says about loans. First we must look into the Torah, the first few books of the Old Testament, which was written for the Modern Day Christian’s instruction (See Romans 15:4). In order to properly assess the idea of loans, we must assess the ideas of interest or, as the Bible calls it, usury.
In Leviticus 25:35-38 (KJV), it says:
35‘Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.36‘Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you.37‘You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain.38‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
What did we just read? For those of you who don’t speak King James, let’s sum this up. In the case that someone becomes poor and has to borrow money or food from you to survive, you are not to take usury from them. You can keep a tab on the debt, you just can’t make them pay interest on it.
Exodus 22:25 (NIV) says,
25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. 26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, 27 because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”
Again, Deuteronomy 23:19-20 (NIV) says,
19 “Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.”
Just in case you were thinking that being “needy” was the only requirement to negate the charging of interest, please take this past verse’s phrase into consideration: “Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that you may earn interest.” See also Ezekiel 18, Psalms 15:4, and Proverbs 28:8, all of which revolve around the quality of a righteous man being that he does not lend to the poor or needy for profit. Besides this fact, what better way is there to become poor and needy so early in life than becoming $162,000 in debt!
Back to the issue at hand. Arguably, one such loan wouldn’t be so bad to repay, and to do so with interest, if not for the fact that these loan companies prey on young people, many of who have no concept of money, labor, or how finances actually operate in the real world. Not only do they not realize the realities of the debt, but they don’t grasp the concept of “interest,” either; they ignorantly consign themselves to pay up to twice the amount they have borrowed, when all has been said and done. Seeing how cruel of a happening this is, how can one young, undiscerning victim such as this be allowed make such a monumental decision to spend the next ten to a hundred years of his or her life in debt? How could they possibly understand the level of indebtedness, slavery and years of repayment that will be required of them – and that at the hand of the Christian college that lured them there.
So, their lack of life experience makes such young adults primary targets to this flawed system, a system which demands prompt repayment when the student has graduated (or flunked out). Perhaps, however, one could overlook this wile, were they to find a well-paying job in their field of expertise. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen? But people these days just aren’t finding the job market as friendly as it perhaps once was.
According to a 2010 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27% of graduates actually found a job in their direct field of study at the end of their college career, and only 62% actually had jobs that necessitated a college degree – of any scope. The remaining percent gets stuck working coffee shops, fast food restaurants, or department stores – and that is only if they can get such a job while now being so overqualified. College degree or not, many of these jobs are minimum wage or a smidgen higher. No one can argue that it is hard enough to survive, let alone pay back loans with interest, while earning only minimum wage. And that’s just a consensus of survival while single – not of having a mate and children.
A person’s four years of college spent fully, they may as well sell themselves off into slavery. Which brings us back to what these private Christian colleges have to do with anything.
Listen to this Scripture from Deuteronomy 15 (NIV):
1 “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.
Not only does the Bible explicitly sets guidelines for debts and interest, but it also says that debt is to be forgiven after a seven year period of time. This debt was not to be held onto, resold, and reinstated after so many years, the practice of all modern day debt collection companies. Of course, these Christian colleges are not the shareholders of these debts – the loan companies are. But the fact still remains that they are pointing with neon signs to a practice that God has condemned to be evil, heartless, cruel, and unnecessary. What have you to say for yourselves?
But before you go telling me, “but you’re comparing apples to oranges! The mandate was for Israelites toward other fellow Israelites!” True – IF you haven’t read the New Testament. You New Testament believers ought to remember the parable of the Good Samaritan in which Jesus defines the term “neighbor” (see Luke 10:25-37). The “neighbor” just happens to end up being a foreigner. And have you already forgotten that Jesus says that the greatest laws are to love God with everything and then to love your neighbor as yourself? “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (See Matthew 22:34-40) Now you are without any excuse.
To further complicate matters, there is no debt forgiveness for student loans, private or federal, in the U.S. when it comes to filing bankruptcy. There is practically no escape from your loan except for death or permanent hospitalization. To put your name on the paper is to put your neck in the stockade, all the while these university presidents are smiling and waving at you, telling you that it is safe. Take a gander at the following websites, if you don’t believe me.
They have all of this information, and yet these Bible-believing, Bible-teaching Christian universities are helping the young victims fall prey to the very system that God strictly warns us humans against. From the aforementioned Scriptures we can see that God does not like this concept of “interest,” nor of holding onto debt indefinitely, and yet they still persist in such matters. Interest is solely a propriety of the Gentiles, but to God’s people it is not supposed to exist between one another; debt is to be treated the same way (see Matthew 18:21-35, esp. 33).
A Christian that attends a Christian university and is not a complete genius or extremely wealthy does not have another option; they must choose a loan, and this loan, albeit given by a private or federal lender, is advertised and accepted by the financial department of the university, with the full knowledge that the student debtor will be responsible for the ensuing interest rate and retaining debt.
For those of you who still lack that final push to make you want to vomit, please visit http://www.christianfinancialcu.com/christian-financial-credit-union-loan-rates.asp and http://www.churchloan.net/loanOptions/Custom%20Pages/Church%20Loan%20Options/. I think these websites should both be nominated for the “Oxymoron of the Year” award, if such a thing exists. And here I was thinking that Christians were supposed to help people.
So, what do you Christians think about this?