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    How We Afforded a Christian Education

    Even on a tight budget, these families—with God's help—found a way.

    Krishana Kraft

    The price of a Christian college education can seem overwhelming. Maybe you're thinking, There's no way we could afford to send our child to a Christian college.

    You're not alone. The high cost of private education will stretch and strain most family budgets. That's why we interviewed parents who decided a Christian education really would be worth the cost. We talked to them about how they did it and what sacrifices they had to make. And we talked to them about their firm belief that they made the best decision about their child's education.

    The parents we interviewed had at least one child attend Sterling College, a four-year Christian liberal arts college in Sterling, Kansas. Sterling's tuition is $21,700 per year, which doesn't include room, board or books. If these parents can do it, you probably can too. So, soak in some sound advice from parents who have been there, and have seen a Christian college education become a reality for their kids.

    One Day at a Time

    Tom and Teri Eastman, Lyons, Kansas

    They have six kids: Tyler (senior at Sterling), Conor (freshman at Sterling), Caleb (high school senior), Kaley (high school junior), Kelsy (eighth grader) and B.J. (pre-schooler). Tom is a pastor and Teri is a teacher's aide in an elementary school.

    With six kids and a pastor's salary, saving for college was not an option for the Eastman family. Tom says that since he grew up in a large family, being one of five kids, he understood there would be financial limits on his own children's college educations. He says he encourages his kids to rely on part-time jobs, grants, scholarships and limited loans in order for their undergraduate work to cost them as little as possible.

    To save some money, Tyler waited until his junior year to begin attending Sterling. He attended a local junior college during his first two years. Since their hometown of Lyons is about 13 miles from the college, Tyler can live at home instead of having to pay for on-campus room and board.

    Tom regrets that his son is missing out on the social aspect of college life by living off-campus. But doing so helps make the education affordable. And it's just another sacrifice worth making because it will prepare Tyler to succeed in his chosen profession—pastoral ministry.

    "I think some kids go away to college for four years and then get rolled out into the world, which can be a difficult adjustment," Tom says. "My kids will never be able to say that they are 'just going to college' during any part of their education. They have to be hard workers and learn to juggle 100 different things to stay on top. But I think they'll be prepared for the ups and downs of this world."

    Tyler survives the ups and downs of college tuition through his management internship at Target and through Habitat for Humanity's scholarship program. Tyler was one of a few to receive an $11,000 scholarship through Habitat, the result of volunteering six Saturdays per semester, working on projects that give homes to needy families, and attending local chapter meetings. Tom hopes his other children can also benefit from this program.

    He says his family has to live one day at a time, using whatever resources they've been given. They've also found some unique ways to earn extra cash. "Recently we moved out to the country and began some farming," Tom says. "We also hope to bring in some extra money through dog breeding and rebuilding cars." He says being faithful with what God has given them and trusting him to provide for their needs gets their family through the financial crunch.

    Being Responsible

    Larry and Lisa Dashiell, Portland, Oregon

    They have two kids, Christian (Sterling graduate) and Harmonee (junior at Linfield College). Larry's a vice principal at a Portland high school and Lisa works as a discharge planner at a medical center.

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