Some years back I pursued a master’s degree in Divinity with a small religious university in southwest Michigan. I did so at the behest of my pastor who felt I had a “calling” and should pursue leadership within the church. Out of a sincere belief in the faith, I uprooted my life and moved to southwest Michigan to get this degree. I found out after I was enrolled that the overwhelming majority of students in the grad program were sponsored by their individual regional churches which meant their education was either fully or heavily subsidized by the church. By contrast, even though my pastor had encouraged me to go, there was no discussion whatsoever about subsidization. Nobody at the university told me about this, I found out through the grapevine.
So I thought, “No problem, I’ll just talk to the dean of the program!” I met with the guy and he tells me there is a really good chance for me because I’m young, I’m bright, I’m involved in the church, and I’m getting great grades. So I stick with the program, I get straight A’s for all of my classes, even the hard stuff like ancient languages. I really beat myself up studying and pushing for the top position in my class. And at the end of my program for two semesters in a row I attended a pastoral career fair. During that fair, delegates from all over the USA representing the various regions of the denomination were present and recruiting students.
I had a full schedule of interviews at both fairs. I dressed up nice, I was polished and professional, I even followed the school advice to pay for professional portrait photos with my wife so we would look the part. Not a single region jumped at me or even made me so much as an offer.
In fact, the region where I came from–Wisconsin–specifically told me they had a freeze on all hiring because of financial concerns and a downward trend in church membership. But then my good friends and fellow classmates went and interviewed immediately after me and were BOTH offered jobs as pastors. HOW DARE???
I continued to send out letters of interest and intent to regions all over the USA looking for a way to get my foot in the door. I just happened to bump into one of the most famous pastors in the denomination who befriended me and offered to write me a letter of recommendation. He gave me a glowing recommendation as did several of the professors in my program, all of whom are renowned and respected in the denomination. Still, despite years of trying, I never was offered a job.
So I feel that I was told there was a place for me and then I was either blackballed or just ignored because I wasn’t a ‘sponsored’ student. Either way, I took on tens of thousands of dollars of debt for an education that has, to date, earned me a grand total of $0 of income.
Do you all feel there might be grounds on which to state this was a fraudulent loan, or is that too anecdotal? If I have email transcripts from my professors and such dating back to that time, does that help any?