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    How We Afforded It

    These five families believe a Christian education is worth the cost.

    by Tara Ryan Walker

    Ever wonder how you could possibly afford a Christian education for your son or daughter? Don't worry; you're not alone. These five families knew the value of a Christian college, but weren't sure they could afford it.

    Here are their stories.

    Worthwhile Investments

    When their four children were still young, Carrie and Gary Butler of Crown Point, Indiana, decided to teach them the value of a dollar. They wanted them to understand what it meant to earn money and use it for their future. Part of this lesson included expecting them to completely finance their own college education.

    And the plan worked. All four Butler children financed their own educations (including book money and everyday expenses)—three at Cedarville University, and one at the University of Wisconsin. For the three Butler kids who chose Cedarville, a Christian college in Ohio, Gary says, "The cost was high, but we felt it was worth pursuing to reinforce the Christian worldview we had tried to instill in their hearts."

    While they did not financially contribute to their children's educations, Gary and Carrie had other roles. Gary explains that for several years they helped their children deliver papers on their 4 a.m. routes, and they prayed often for their children to make wise money decisions.

    Jennifer Butler Ellis, a 1994 Cedarville graduate, saved money as a kid and applied for dozens of scholarships and grants but still came up several thousand dollars short. In college, Jennifer worked 10 hours a week during the school year and then worked as many hours as possible during the summer. She also saved money by using the CLEP program, which allows students to test out of certain general education classes. She was able to graduate in three years.

    After seeing what his sister accomplished, Bart worked several jobs through high school. By the time he entered Cedarville, he had saved nearly $26,000. He won several scholarships and, like his sister, tested out of 30 credit hours of general education courses. In 1996, Bart graduated with no debt, and after only three years in college.

    Ginger, who graduated in 2004, saved a great deal by working through high school, but not enough to afford the tuition. After applying for dozens of scholarships, she was elated to receive $9,050 in awards for her freshman year alone. She too earned her bachelor's degree in three years with no accumulated debt. And perhaps as important as the money or a degree, Ginger says she gained a strong work ethic from paying for her own education. "Working long hours did a lot to mold my character," Ginger said. "I learned to enjoy hard work, and not to run from it."

    Ginger also learned to spend her money wisely. When her friends were eating out or buying new clothes, she was careful to save most of her money for school. It wasn't always easy to say no when friends were going out, but she stayed focused thanks to family support and by looking at her sacrifices as an investment. Ginger's penny-pinching paid off: She saved enough extra money to study in Israel one summer and at the Focus on the Family Institute in Colorado Springs another summer.

    A Family Education

    Sharon Baldwin-Montgomery of Haddonfield, New Jersey, discovered God can use everyone in a family to provide for needs. As a longtime single mother, Sharon says she wasn't able to save for her daughter's college education. Six years ago, she got married, but still wasn't sure how they'd make Renata's dream of going to a Christian college come true.

    When Renata, now a junior, chose to attend Nyack College in New York, Sharon called a meeting with the family of her daughter's father. At the meeting, Renata's father and stepmother, her paternal grandparents and her aunt and uncle each pledged to give $100 per month for Renata's schooling. "We could all work together because we believe strongly in supporting each other for the benefit of the children," Sharon says.