About Financial Aid

Purposes and Principles

Students are encouraged to have an informed financial plan to meet their educational and living expenses while attending ESR. This allows students to make the best use of the various sources of assistance, and thus, the school’s educational resources. Students are encouraged to meet with the Business Manager to develop their personal financial plan, using the following information.

The Financial Aid program of ESR is designed to assist students who have limited resources to meet their educational expenses, and to encourage full-time participation. Within the financial aid policy established by the Dean of ESR, financial aid awards are based on information supplied by the student. The Director of Recruitment and Admissions awards first-year, full-tuition Cooper Scholar Awards. The Business Manager determines a student’s eligibility for Need-based Aid, Federal Student Aid (FSA) loans, and other special scholarships and fellowships.

ESR’s educational program is highly subsidized by the types of financial aid described below. Some students are able to finance their share of education costs without our assistance. Others develop a package of support that typically includes a combination of scholarship funds from ESR or denominational resources, part-time work, FSA loans, and other sources of external support. It is ESR’s hope that each student will be able to work out a plan that avoids undue financial pressure, excessive employment or unmanageable indebtedness. Experience has shown that students seldom are able to carry a full academic load and work more than 20 hours per week.

Financial Aid Application Process

FSA Loans and/or Need-Based Aid

Complete an ESR Financial Aid Application online at A critical part of the application is the Budget Worksheet.

Complete a FAFSA on-line at On the last page, enter both ESR’s school code E00170 and Earlham College’s code 001793.

For applications submitted between January 1st and April 15th, a Financial Aid Award letter will be sent by April 30th. For applications received after April 15th, an award letter will be sent within two weeks of the receipt of the application or FAFSA, whichever is later. If applicable, also enclosed will be a Request for Federal Student Aid Loan form, which includes instructions of further stops a student must take to receive the loan.

Sign and return the request for FSA loans within 30 days.

If a student has not received FSA loans from ESR in the past, the Business Manager will contact the student to discuss financial aid, including budgets and loan repayment.

Cooper Scholar Program and Leadership & Service Program

To apply for all types of Cooper Scholar Program awards and the Leadership & Service Program award, see details in Types of Aid, below.

International Students

All international students must complete an International Student Statement of Financial Position, even if they will not require Financial Aid. This information is necessary in order to grant a student the F-1 Visa required to enter and study in the United States. According to Federal law, an international student must document financial resources adequate to meet the Cost of Attendance of one year’s study and living expenses. These funds may come from a variety of sources. Some students receive an International Cooper Scholar Award, which provides some funds for living expenses, but not the entire amount required. Other sources of funding are from the student’s personal savings, family income or assets, sponsorship by their monthly or yearly meeting, or other agencies and foundations. International students, by law, may work only for Earlham College or Earlham School of Religion. ESR will assist the student in obtaining a paid job, but this is not guaranteed.

See page 62 in the Admission section for more information on International Students. To apply for an International Cooper Scholar Award, follow the directions in Types of Aid, below.

Cost of Attendance Budget Norms

ESR’s Need-based Aid and FSA loans are based on the student’s Financial Need. This is the Cost of Attendance (COA) less your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), less any outside aid received. COA is calculated from the student’s personal budget on the ESR Financial Aid Application. EFC is determined by information the student enters on their FAFSA. ESR aid and FSA loans, when combined with other student resources, may never exceed the Cost of Attendance.

Each year, the Business Manager estimates the Cost of Attendance (COA) for a “typical, frugal” ESR student. A student’s actual COA will probably vary from the norms, so they should be used only as a guideline to complete the Financial Aid Application Budget Worksheet All students, whether or not they are seeking aid, should complete a Budget Worksheet in the formation of their financial plan.

There are additional costs you should consider for your personal budget that are not included in the COA. These include, but are not limited to, car payments, personal debt repayment and life insurance.


New Students may complete a FAFSA and ESR Financial Aid Application, for FSA loans and Need-based Aid, anytime after January 1st, for the following academic year. There is not a deadline for applications; however, funds for Need-based Aid and Cooper Scholarships are limited, and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Returning Students must complete a renewal FAFSA and ESR Financial Aid Application between January 1st and April 15th, for the following academic year. Late applications will not be considered until after the start of classes in the fall, and will be awarded as funds allow.

Eligibility and Limits

Cooper Scholar awards, Leadership & Service awards, the Thomas J. Mullen and Nancy K. Mullen Scholarships FSA loans are available only to degree-seeking students. Need-based Aid is available to degree-seeking and certificate students. Acceptable Academic Progress Standards, as published in the Student Handbook, must be maintained. Students who fail to meet these standards are placed on academic probation and continue to receive aid for one session only. If they remain on probation after that session, all aid will be suspended until acceptable progress is made. Students with mitigating circumstances can appeal in writing to the Business Manager. See the ESR Student Handbook and page 30 for additional information on academic progress and probation.

ESR financial aid of all types is limited to a combined maximum number of sessions or a maximum number of credits, whichever comes first, according to the table below:


Maximum Credits

Maximum Sessions

M.Div./M.Min. –Residential



M.Div./M.min. - Access


M.A. – Residential



M.A. – Access


Most forms of financial aid require a minimum number of credit hours each session, including two-week and weekend Intensives, full semester classes and year-long classes. In order to receive and maintain a  Cooper Scholar, Leadership & Service, or Thomas J. Mullen Scholarship, a student must take nine credits per session. Need-based Aid for degree-seeking students, the Nancy K. Mullen Scholarship and FSA loans require six credits per session. Need-based aid for certificate students requires 3 credits per session. There may be other requirements specific to each type of aid, as listed below.

Types of Aid

Cooper Scholar Program

In honor of ESR’s founding Dean, Wilmer Cooper, and his wife, Emily Haines Cooper, the ESR Board of Advisors established the Cooper Scholar Program. Wil Cooper envisioned ESR as a place where the most gifted leaders from all branches of the Society of Friends would come for study. Priority is given to Quaker students who have been identified as promising leaders and ministers by their monthly and yearly meetings. As funds allow, Cooper Scholar awards may also be granted to non-Quaker students who have similarly been identified by their denominations.

Cooper Scholars sign a moral obligation covenant agreeing to contribute four volunteer hours of service to the ESR community over the course of each semester for each credit hour covered by the scholarship. In addition, they agree to remain in good academic standing and heed the advices and requests of ESR on personal and moral concerns.

There are three types of Cooper Scholar awards: Residential, International and Minority. The eligibility and selection requirements are the same for all three.

Grant (varies for each type):

  • Residential Cooper Award: Full tuition for 54 credit hours for M.Div/M.Min. students, 27 credit hours for M.A. students.
  • International Cooper Award: Full tuition plus a living stipend and rent, for a total of  approximately *$25,000 per academic year, limited to two years for an M.A. student or three years for an M.Div/M.Min. student. A student must take 27 credits per academic year to complete the M.Div/M.Min degree in three years. Preference is given to Quaker students from outside of the United States who agree to return home immediately after graduation and complete no less than three years of service in their country of origin. The living stipend may not be sufficient to cover the student’s entire living expense, so other sources of income must be found, as described above in the Application section.
  • Minority Cooper Award: Full tuition up to 54 credits, for African-American or Hispanic members of a Christian denomination, with preference to those affirming an intention to serve as pastors.

Eligibility: Cooper Scholars must be full-time, residential, degree-seeking students. A minimum of nine credit hours must be taken every session. If a student takes less than nine credits in any session, their scholarship may be suspended. If/when the student returns to full-time, they must request re-instatement of their scholarship from the Business Manager.

Nomination and Selection: Each prospective Cooper Scholar nominee must be recommended by both the applicant's monthly and yearly meetings. The monthly meeting nomination is of primary importance. Normally a small group of two or three persons appointed by monthly meeting Ministry and Counsel (or its equivalent) will meet with the student to discern a leading and call to ministry and to study at ESR.

When the monthly meeting is clear to recommend a member as a nominee for a Cooper Scholarship, it should communicate its recommendation to ESR and to an appropriate group or weighty Friend within the yearly meeting who are familiar with the prospective student’s call to and gifts for ministry. This group or individual (or an equivalent representative from within the applicant’s religious organization) should also provide a letter of recommendation to ESR.

Non-Quaker students should discuss with the Director of Recruitment and Admissions what would be considered equivalent letters of recommendation from their faith community. The ESR Admissions Committee selects Cooper Scholars from among those nominated.

Nomination should be sent to:

Director of Recruitment and Admissions
Earlham School of Religion
228 College Avenue
Richmond, IN 47374

In additional, Cooper Scholar recipients will meet the following criteria:

1. Be active members of the Religious Society of Friends or other Christian group

2. Demonstrate personal qualities of leadership

3. Have a commitment to ministry and/or service

4. Reflect spiritual sensitivity and maturity

5. Have demonstrated strong academic ability

6. Plan to complete a degree program at ESR

Thomas J. Mullen Scholarship

Grant: Full tuition scholarship for the final 30 credits of the M.Div./M.Min. degree or for 21 hours to complete the M.A. degree.

Eligibility: Any Cooper scholar in good standing may apply for the scholarship in the year in which they will successfully complete 48 hours of the M. Div. or 21 hours of the M.A. degree. Up to 4 Thomas J. Mullen Scholarships will be offered each year, as funds permit.

Leadership & Service Program

Grant: Full tuition scholarship for 84 credits for the M.Div./M.Min. degree or for 48 hours for the M.A. degree.

Eligibility: There are two categories of eligibility for a Leadership and Service Program Scholarship.

1) Residential students who, within the past 3 years, are recommended by and have participated in a service or leadership program including: a Quaker College Leadership program; Quaker Voluntary Service or another “Service Programs that Change the World” or Forum for Theological Exploration Volunteers Exploring Vocation program, or a year-long internship with American Friends Service CommitteeFriends Committee on National Legislation, QuEST Seattle, Quaker United Nations Office, or other approved service organization. Up to 4 will be awarded each year.

2) Residential students who, within the past 3 years, are recommended by and have participated in a Bonner Scholar or Bonner Leader program. Up to 2 will be available at any one time. 

Recipients will sign a moral obligation covenant agreeing to contribute four volunteer hours of service to the ESR community over the course of each semester for each credit hour covered by the scholarship. In addition, they agree to remain in good academic standing and heed the advices and requests of ESR on personal and moral concerns. Bonner Program students will complete their volunteer hours in the Bonner Scholars Program office at Earlham College. M.Div. students can choose to complete their volunteer hours in the first two years of the program in order to leave their final year free for their Supervised Ministry placement.

Nomination: Each prospective Leadership & Service Program nominee must be recommended by their college program or service organization.  ESR's Director of Recruitment and Admissions can provide guidance and details on the process.   Nomination should be sent to:

Director of Recruitment and Admissions
Earlham School of Religion
228 College Avenue
Richmond, IN 47374

Need-Based Aid

Grant: Except in cases of exceptional need, the scholarship covers up to 50% of tuition for degree-seeking students, and up to 25% for certificate students.

Eligibility: Need-based Aid is available to all degree-seeking students taking a minimum of six credits per session (3 credits for certificate students), who have not been awarded any other full-tuition scholarship. Need is calculated from information provided by the student on their FAFSA and Financial Aid Application.

Federal Student Aid (FSA) Loans

Through Earlham College, ESR participates in the Federal Direct (Stafford) Loan Program and the Perkins Loan Program. The Federal Budget Control Act of 2011 limits graduate students to Direct Unsubsidized, GradPLUS and Perkins loans only. Graduate students are no longer eligible for Direct Subsidized loans. Before applying for FSA loans, ESR counsels students to carefully consider their ability to repay loans, based on expected future income and other factors. The Business Manager can assist you in this determination. Students who request FSA loans must complete on on-line Entrance Counseling process that provides detailed information on receiving and repaying Stafford and Perkins loans. The student must also electronically sign a Master Promissory Note.

Loan Amount: Using Federal guidelines, the Business Manager determines the amount for which a student is eligible. Calculations are based on information received on the student’s ESR Financial Aid application and FAFSA. See COA budget norms, page 96. The student may request all or part of the eligible amount, which is disbursed to the student’s account in two equal payments. See disbursement of fsa loans below. The Direct Loan maximum per year is $20,500; GradPLUS and Perkins loan amounts vary.

Eligibility: FSA loans are available to all degree-seeking students enrolled in at least 6 credits per session. Stafford Loans can be used for living expenses after tuition and fees have been deducted. Perkins Loans are available to students with exceptional need, as calculated using Federal guidelines.

Special Scholarships

Generous donors provide some scholarships with unique awards, guidelines, requirements and application processes. The Business Manager issues a “Call for Applications” at appropriate times during the year, with details on eligibility and restrictions. Currently, there are two special scholarships:

The Tom Mullen Ministry of Writing Fellowship awards $1,500 to a student who spends the Spring Semester at ESR working on a “publishable” manuscript while attending a Ministry of Writing class. The Nancy Kortepeter Mullen Scholarship was established to honor the courage and compassion of Nancy Mullen, the wife of former ESR Dean Tom Mullen It awards full tuition payment for 27 credits to any degree-seeking student.

Certificate Program Prepay Discount

A student admitted to an ESR Certificate Program may choose to prepay tuition for the entire 6-course (18 credit) program and receive a 25% discount, based on the tuition rate for the first year in which a certificate class is taken.  See Certificate Program Prepay Discount Procedure and Application under Important Documents.

Non-ESR Sources Of Aid

ESR encourages students to utilize all other resources of financial aid. The Business Office will cooperate with any outside agency to coordinate aid. For confidentiality reasons, a written request from the student is required before ESR will release a student’s aid application, or information contained therein, to an outside agency. Some sources students should explore are denominational support, family support, and non-ESR scholarships. Click on this link for a comprehensive list of non-ESR aid and scholarships that is continuously updated.

Disbursement of FSA loans

Academic Calendar

A student’s Cost of Attendance and total credit hours covers any or all parts-of-term in which the student takes classes, including 2-week and weekend Intensives, full-semester and full-year classes and summer CPE work. All FSA loans are disbursed in two payments. If the loan covers the full academic year, those two disbursements come at the beginning of each semester. If the loan is for one session only, the first disbursement is at the beginning of the semester, and the second at the half-way point of the semester, mid-October, or mid-March.

Loan Refunds

If the student has requested loans in an amount that exceeds tuition and fees, that amount will be refunded to the student to use for those living expenses detailed on their Financial Aid Application Budget Worksheet. Refund checks are issued within 14 days of the loan disbursement. If a student requires a small advance for books and supplies, they should see the Business Manager.