From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Education board provides 1,000 new scholarships; increases loan

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 12 Oct 1998 14:28:53


Oct. 12, 1998	Contact: Linda Green((615)742-5470(Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -- The United Methodist Office of Loans and
Scholarships will begin a four-year, $4 million program on Jan. 1 to
help United Methodist students attending any regionally accredited
academic institutions in the United States.

"The Gift of Hope: 21st Century Scholars" program was approved by the
denomination's Board of Higher Education and Ministry at its annual
meeting, Oct. 6-10. The program will grant $1 million a year in
scholarship funds from 1999-2003, providing $1,000 scholarships to 1,000
United Methodist students annually. 

Most scholarships provided by the board are earmarked for United
Methodist students at denomination-related schools. However, the "Gift
of Hope" program is designed for United Methodist students enrolled in
full-time degree programs at any accredited regional educational
institution in the United States, said Angella Current, staff executive
with the office of loans and scholarships. 

"We are excited that this board has authorized this new program,"
Current said. "The vision of the early Methodists who started providing
financial support to students through the establishment of the Student
Loan Fund in the 1800s ... continues to be fulfilled."

Students from the denomination's central conferences overseas must be
enrolled in a United Methodist-related institution in the United States,
and students pursuing theological degrees must attend a seminary
approved by the United Methodist University Senate. The award will be
granted annually and students must reapply.

In addition to meeting the standard requirements set by the office of
loans and scholarships, an applicant must be a member of the United
Methodist Church for at least three years and have a record of
leadership in the denomination. Examples of leadership include
participating in an annual, jurisdictional, or General Conference;
serving as a United Methodist Youth Fellowship officer; being involved
in Campus Ministry/Student Movement activity; working on a
church-sponsored mission project; and belonging to a local church
Council on Ministries.

Applicants also must show how their education will provide leadership
for the church and society and will improve the quality of life of
others. The Gift of Hope application deadline is June 1. 

During the annual meeting, the 63 governing members of Board of Higher
Education and Ministry also increased the annual maximum amount a
student may borrow from the United Methodist Student Loan Fund from
$1,500 to $2,500 per year. The action increases the total aggregate
amount from $9,000 to $15,000. The increase allows a student to borrow
$2,500 annually during four years of undergraduate study and two years
of graduate study. 

In addition to loan increases, the board also lengthened the loan
repayment period from eight years to 10 years with a minimum monthly
payment of  $50. 

The current maximum amount of $1,500 annually that is available from the
United Methodist Student Loan Fund "is insufficient for students today
and for the 21st century," Current said, citing her office's survey of
campus ministers and financial aid directors, along with a review of
applicants who did not qualify for existing scholarship programs. The
survey also substantiated the need for scholarships for students at
non-United Methodist schools and for students from the central
conferences enrolled at church-related schools, colleges and
universities, Current said.

As of July 31,  the office of loans and scholarships had granted about
$2.7 million in scholarships and loans to some 2,400 students for the
1998-1999 academic year, Current said. 

By Dec. 31, about $3.2 million will be awarded in scholarships to more
than 2,800 students, along with $1.5 million in loans, according to the
office's projections. 

More information on financial aid is available from the Office of Loans
and Scholarships, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, P.O.
Box 871, Nashville, TN  37202; scholarship phone: (615) 340-7344; loan
phone: (615) 340-7346. Scholarship and loan applications for the
1999-2000 academic year will be available Jan. 1.

In other action, the board decided to petition the church's supreme
court at its April meeting  for a declaratory decision on the
constitutionality and the application of Paragraph 714.1 of the
denomination's 1996 Book of Discipline, dealing with 12-year term limits
for general secretaries and elected staff of program agencies. 

The current language limits the terms of the elected staff of program
agencies, including elected lay staff, to 12 years. The limit
"discriminates against these staff on the basis of status and is
therefore unconstitutional pursuant to Paragraph 15.14 of the 1996
Discipline," the board said. 

The limit is discriminatory because clergy staff members can seek an
appointment from their bishops after 12 years with an agency, while lay
staff must seek other employment, board members said. The current
language is "invalid" because the term limitations violate other
disciplinary paragraphs that establish "autonomy and governing
authority" of program agencies and the United Methodist Board of Higher
Education and Ministry, members said.

Board members also approved General Conference proposals for increasing
the apportionments for Africa University, the Ministerial Education Fund
(MEF), the Black College Fund, the HANA (Hispanic, Asian and Native
American) Scholarship Fund, the University-College Fund. They also
approved a proposal to request funding the United Methodist Student
Movement during the 2001-2004 quadrennium. 

The board will propose that the 2000 General Conference increase Africa
University's apportionment by $4 million, to a total $14 million. Of
that amount, the board said, $10 million would be for general operations
at the university. The $4 million proposed increase would aid in
establishing distance education centers and programs at the university
and four satellite learning stations. The proposed increase also would
help establish a College of Health Sciences.

A case study on the MEF noted that the church's portion of the cost of
theological education continues to decline. In 1968, when the fund was
created, the church provided 32 percent of seminary budgets. Since then,
church support has declined to less than 15 percent, and it is expected
to fall below 12 percent early in the next century, according to the
study. Meanwhile, a student's share of the cost of theological education
has increased from 10 percent in the 1960s to more than 30 percent
today, leaving graduates with debts higher than their annual income in
the first years of ministry.

Officials in the church's division on ordained ministry are calling for
a 4 percent annual increase in the MEF for the 2001-2004 quadrennium.
This action is aimed at reducing the 5.4 percent gap between the annual
1.6 percent increase in the MEF during the last four years and the
typical 7 percent increase in seminary tuition. Increasing the fund at
the proposed rate would allow seminaries to control tuition increases,
according to agency officials.

"If we are to have a spirit-called, well-trained clergy for the new
millennium, it will demand the faithful support of the whole church,"
said authors of the MEF case statement. "We call the church to the same
vision which captured the church's attention in 1968, a renewed
commitment to calling and training faithful clergy leaders through the
Ministerial Education Fund."

The board members received a detailed report and analysis of the funds
administered by the agency. Churchwide agencies have been the focus of
discussions within the denomination about the funds under their
administration. Concern has been expressed that the money accumulated by
some agencies through investments is not being used properly. 

According to Raul Alegria, treasurer at the Board of Higher Education
and Ministry, the agency is guided and directed in its administration of
the funds it administers by paragraphs 1406.10 and 1406.11 of the United
Methodist Book of Discipline. 

It is the responsibility of the board, in cooperation with the
churchwide General Council on Finance and Administration, "to develop
long-range investments and fund-raising projects within the church that
shall guarantee, insofar as possible, the continuous flow of resources
for United Methodist higher education for the decades and centuries to
come," according to the Discipline.

In developing long-range investments, the board adheres to the specific
guidelines adopted by the General Conference, Alegria said. However,
because of changes in accounting standards by the Financial Accounting
Standards Board, confusion has arisen across the church about the
designation of net assets that the boards and agencies have under their

The Board of Higher Education and Ministry's funds are classified based
on the existence or absence of donor-imposed restrictions, Alegria said.
Most of the agency's funds have been classified by outside auditors as
"unrestricted" - net assets that are not subject to donor-imposed
restrictions - and "undesignated" - net assets that can be used for the
agency's general purposes. Other agency funds are classified as
temporarily or permanently restricted.

Most of the board's fund designations were established by past boards or
predecessor board actions, General Conference action or donor intent,
such as gifts from the Freedman's Aid Society, Alegria said.

Board members also: 
* recognized Richard Stewart, a staff member in the section on chaplains
and related ministries, who is retiring in 1999;
* approved a gathering to bring all United Methodist bishops and their
cabinets together in 2001 or 2002;
* learned of a bishops-led study into the future needs of theological
* heard an address from Rukudzo Murapa, the new vice chancellor
(president) of Africa University; and
* gave feedback to the denomination's Connectional Process Team, which
is developing a "transformational direction" for the church for the next
# # #
United Methodist News Service
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