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What is the one tragic thing keeping graduates from their vocations?

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'The average aspirant to religious life who has attended college faces a student loan balance of $30,000 which must be paid in just months rather than the 20 years originally intended.'

New graduates have become so indebted to private banks, the government and other sources of money after borrowing enough to pay for their education. Now crippled in debt, many are turned away from the vocations they are called to as they are unable to pay their debts off.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A Brookings Institute study shows that between 2004 and 2012, the number of students borrowing money to pay for their education increased by 70 percent, as did the amount of debt the average student owed.

An Experian Analysis Erevealed that 40 million adults in the United States are still paying off their student debt, with CNN reporting the collective cost at $1.2 trillion.

An independent research group called the Institute for College Access & Success, found that 69 percent of graduating seniors from public schools in 2014 were in debt, with the average cost at $29,000.

Kristan Venagas, a research associate at the University of Southern California's Pullias Center for Higher Education, said recent graduates are "delaying starting their families because they have student loan debt that they want to pay down or pay off before they invest in a mortgage or any sort of long-term indebtedness." 

Twenty-seven-year-old Amanda Stueve graduated from Texas A&M in 2013 with a Master's in internal affairs and $58,000 in student loans. She has been waiting nearly a year to join the Little Sisters of the Lamb in Kansas City, but the Little Sisters are unable to absorb her debt and Stueve has yet to find employment. 

Stueve believes if she is able to find a job with a decent salary, and if she is aggressive, she can pay off her loan in three years. Though her situation is difficult, she believes God would not have given her a calling she could not respond to.

She is grateful to the Little Sisters and their supportive attitudes, saying, "They know that I'm discerning, and they're basically willing to take me in any time that I'm debt-free."

The Little Sisters of the Lamb offered Stueve a place to live as well as a few formation classes, which she gladly accepted. However, she is unable to move forward until her debt is paid off.

"I definitely couldn't be a postulant with the debt," she admitted to Global Sisters. Sadly, her story is one of millions.

Luckily, there are organizations dedicated to helping would-be sisters and brothers pay off debt, such as the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations (MEFV), whose mission statement reads:

"As part of the vow of poverty, a person who enters religious life must be debt-free. If you have no financial assets, you have no way to make monthly payments on any kind of loan. Most vibrant religious orders have no assets to spare for assisting their aspirants with their debts.

"What little they have must be allocated to feeding and housing their members. Many religious orders are mendicant and beg for their daily sustenance. The average aspirant to religious life who has attended college faces a student loan balance of $30,000 which must be paid in just months rather than the 20 years originally intended. 
"As a result, an aspirant's entrance is delayed, sometimes for many years. Consider the impoverishment to the Church in terms of years of lost consecration and sacrifice for our Lord. It is our mission to eliminate the obstacle an aspirant's student loans present to answering his vocation."

If you would like to help strengthen the Congregations of Catholic Sisters please donate here.


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