Should You Tithe While Paying Student Loan Debt?

Americans have a whopping $1.5 trillion in total student loan debt, and 1 in 4 American adults carry student loan debt. Only recently can you discharge your student loans after bankruptcy, but the implications of bankruptcy can still follow you the rest of your life.

If you’re making those student loan payments that never seem to end, they can significantly cut into your monthly spending, and tithing may not even be on your radar. Surely it would be better to get out from under your student debt now and tithe later when you’re in a better financial position, right? Not necessarily.

I know firsthand that student loan debt is stressful, but there’s always a reason not to tithe. There’s always a reason not to do what God wants us to do. If you’re on the fence about tithing because you’re concerned about paying your student loans, here are some biblical truths to consider.

If You’re Working, You Should be Tithing

Tithing is giving 10% of your paycheck to the local church—it’s giving to God out of what God has given you. (To take a deeper dive into what tithing is, see “What is Tithing?”[RW1] )

Work is part of our original purpose, as God called Adam and Eve to work in the Garden of Eden before the fall. The Bible has many commands throughout Proverbs and the epistles that focus on how you should work. These passages assume that you have a job to provide for yourself and those who depend on you.

If you aren’t working while in college, that needs to change as well.

Work gives us a sense of purpose and fulfills God’s calling on our lives to glorify him and bless others. For those who don’t work, Paul has some harsh words when he says:

“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)

Paul is saying that if you have the ability and the opportunity to work, you should be working. Don’t live a life dependent on others or the government to provide for you.

You’re More Indebted to God Than You Know

I encourage you to consider how much you’re indebted to Christ. You may be in debt to the university or bank, but everything you have is because God has given it to you out of his grace. 1 Timothy 6.17 says, “God … richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” How can you pay your other lenders, yet be past due and steal from God?

1 Corinthians 4.7 says, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” All you have is a result of God being generous toward you and providing for you. Giving back to him through tithing is the right response.

Tithing Helps You Learn Financial Management

Tithing with student loans will help you develop the life skill of financial management. Some people have degree after degree but never master this until it’s too late and they look behind them at a lifetime of debt and wonder what happened.

The best education I ever learned was how to save and give properly. Tithing 10% of my income makes me a better steward of the remaining 90%. And let’s be real—you may not ever use your degree, but I assure you that managing your money will be a part of your life for the rest of your life.


I challenge you to tithe to your local church no matter what student loan debt you have. Be a good steward of what God has entrusted to you.

You may think, “I don’t earn enough for my tithe to make a difference. When I make more, then I’ll give.” If you’re not giving now, you won’t then. If you’re not developing the habit of giving when you make less, you’re not going to give when you have more. John D. Rockefeller put it best: “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.”

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