Explanation of “Year-for-Year Payback”

Any staff member who is granted full-time graduate study status must invest a minimum of one additional year in ministry with Cru for each year he or she has pursued full-time graduate study.

Example: Jim attends Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for three years as a full-time student. At the end of his study Jim owes Cru a minimum of three years of “pay back.” The year-for-year pay back policy is rooted in two considerations, one organizational and the other legal:

The Organizational Issue:

It is to Cru's advantage that it provides opportunities for its employees to develop professional skills that maximize their contribution to the cause of Christ.  If Cru pays an employee and allows them to take time away to do a graduate degree, then it is reasonable to expect that the organization should benefit from that education.  The “pay back” represents an appropriate way to accomplish this.

The Legal Issue:

In light of IRS regulations, important legal reasons exist for requiring a “pay back.” To receive “tax exempt” status as a non-profit religious organization [501c(3)], Cru must use its donations for only those activities that directly relate to its goals of evangelism and discipleship. This means Cru must justify the use of donations used to pay employees not directly involved in the accomplishing of Cru organizational goals (e.g., employees working full-time on graduate degrees). Cru’s rationale is that those employees will benefit the organization after they obtain their degree through subsequent work for the organization and direct contribution to the organization’s goals.

Thus, Cru is fulfilling IRS guidelines by channeling donations to equip personnel for future enhanced usefulness toward meeting its organizational goals. Staff members who leave Cru before completing their “payback,” potentially jeopardize Cru’s tax-exempt status with the IRS. In addition, they are jeopardizing the deductibility of the contributions raised to help support their ministry while they were in school.

Financial/Legal Implications:

If a staff member leaves Cru before completing their organizational “payback” and takes a job outside of the Cru organization, his or her graduate education no longer contributes to enhanced usefulness in their current job with Cru.  Thus, he or she would be liable to repay Cru for salary, expenses, and tuition.

The Bottom Line:

Cru is asking a staff member to make a commitment to Cru for the years in graduate school plus an equal number of years after graduation. If a staff member cannot in good conscience make a “long term” commitment to Cru (as expressed through the “pay back”), then they should seek another avenue for graduate study. (Note: The year-for-year pay back policy applies even in the case of staff members who do not use Cru funds to pay for their tuition. Example: Sally attends Dallas Theological Seminary and receives a scholarship covering the entire cost of her tuition. Sally still owes the year-for-year payback. If Sally were to leave staff without completing her “pay back,” she would owe the salary she has received from Cru during her education, because tax-exempt funds were used to support her full-time pursuit of education for which the organization received no benefit.)