GSAA's Commitment: No Student Turned Away!

November 01, 2010 | Linda Klinger

Gem State Adventist Academy has a radical commitment for 2010–2011: No Student Turned Away for Financial Reasons. Why? Because these are not normal times, and our teens need the safety GSAA provides.

Is this a big responsibility? Absolutely, but that is what GSAA is here to do — help parents transmit God's values, God's message and God's mission to their children.

In the past, students were able to "work their way through." Unfortunately this is no longer a viable option. Federal legislation and accrediting regulations now limit the number of hours students may work. And in most cases, it is less than three hours per day.

As the pendulum swings away from students working off most or all of their school bills, the major financial responsibility falls upon parents. Because some Adventist parents do not have the income to fund private education, their children have been excluded from Adventist schools.

This is a tragedy. How many talented young people have been lost to Christ's cause because they did not have the opportunity to be mentored by Christian teachers? How many sons and daughters have lost their way spiritually because God's Word was not part of the curriculum?

Hence, comes GSAA's model to ensure no student will be turned away for financial reasons. It seeks to answer big questions. What would it take to enroll every Idaho Conference teen? How can GSAA help parents with their financial burden? If the school raised twice as much money for Worthy Student Scholarships, would that be enough? How can this plan assure fairness?

As Gem State leaders grappled with these questions, a new model began to emerge. That new model is for the school to partner at a higher level with families in helping them find philanthropic resources.

GSAA students are still expected to work (students benefit when they participate in funding their own education). Parents must finance as much of their child's educational costs as possible. The local church is still an important partner. The school will continue to provide worthy-student scholarships. But if/when, all those sources are tapped out and the financial package is still incomplete, GSAA will partner with the family to find additional funding sources.

Already Gem State is seeing positive results from this faith commitment. Currently 15 students are enrolled who otherwise would not have had the opportunity of an Adventist education this year. Some very happy donors — GSAA alumni and church members — are finding it very gratifying to link up with specific students. Please join us in praying for God's continued blessing on the No Student Turned Away program.