Question about Funding for missionaries:
"How do I handle my debts and still go into missions?"
If the first plan is best for you (it was for me) a loan amortization computer program can calculate a specific schedule for paying off the loans. This plan can include how much to pay and for how long. Stick to that plan as if your life depends on it. The people I knew from college who had no loan repayment plan never made it overseas. Without a plan, they lost focus when the debt wasn't easily paid off.
So make a budget that first deducts your tithe, housing, and food, then pay more than your plan calls for each month. Pray for bonuses and raises, and when they come, apply the extra to paying off debt. Finally, stay involved in short-term missions so that you don't forget what God has led you to do.
If the second plan is best for you, start packing your bags and get moving towards raising support. Don't be ashamed to add a certain amount of money into your budget to repay student loans, and don't hide behind a rock when people ask about it.
For most students coming out of college, I recommend this plan. Here's why. In my experience, many mission-minded people are not able to land jobs that pay enough to kill debt fast (because their degrees are not in demand). While the ideal is a high-paying job, many end up working in a position that pays barely enough to live on. Lest you feel guilty for asking others to pay your school debt, never forget that God wants you to go!
No matter which plan you follow, trust God to take care of it. You never know what will happen as you move in faith into missions.
I think the key issue is being sensitive to God's will for each of us. When we are faithful to do our best to obey, God will provide for our needs.
We learned an important principle: when in doubt, DON'T! If you don't sense the clear guidance of God in a decision you are making, the best advice is not to act until you know in your spirit what God desires you to do. Don't get impatient and react on emotion or logic, but rather trust and wait on the Lord.
Some mission agencies, including WEC, are making provision for student loans. If the missionary candidates present to WEC a letter from a supporter (person or church) promising to pay down the student loans for as long as the missionaries are with WEC, then we ignore the debt. This provision applies only to school loans.
Credit-card debt must be paid off before applicants can become candidates. If they have a home mortgage and wants to keep the house, they must find someone to act as their property manager, renting the house at a rate that covers the mortgage, taxes, and other related fees.
Finally, and I saved the best for last, pray. Some who have joined our mission have received gifts of thousands of dollars toward indebtedness. This has been such a blessing for missionary candidates, raising their trust level several points.
When we decided to go overseas, we owed a mortgage on a house in a section of town where property was devaluing quicker then anyone could have expected. We put our house on the market and began praying. Our house sold in one month. We made two thousand dollars on the house. That may not seem much, but the house next to us took two years to sell and the owners lost ten thousand dollars on the sale. Our houses were identical. God does take care of us. During the three years we were overseas, we never lacked for funds. While we did not have abundance, God took care of our every need. He also gave us some of our wants.
Student debt is the greatest enemy to modern missions other than Satan himself. The Educational Loan Repayment Program can help you to get to the field sooner.