Loans, Scholarship Funds to Decline in 2003

Nov 06, 2002 03:00 AM EST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Many applicants for a loan or scholarship from the United Methodist Church had to be turned away this year due to a lack of funds, according to a denomination executive.

More than $8.4 million was awarded to 5,500 students in 2001 through the United Methodist loan fund and scholarship program. That figure will drop considerably in the immediate future due to a major reduction of reserve funds and the volatility of the financial markets, said Angella Current-Felder, top executive with the denomination’s Office of Loans and Scholarships.

The report was made at a dinner for scholarship recipients sponsored by the Office of Loans and Scholarships during the Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s annual directors meeting, held Oct. 16-19 in Nashville.

During the past three years, an average of 1,100 students received loans annually through the United Methodist Student Day Offering.

"We project that unless the United Methodist Student Day Offering increases, this number will drop to an average of 760 student loans per year," Current-Felder said.

Current-Felder is encouraging United Methodist congregations to challenge the odds by increasing their collective giving through the Student Day Offering, "so that by the end of the quadrennium, we would have achieved the goal of $1 million a year."

She also reported that in 2001, congregational support of United Methodist Student Day exceeded average giving, and annual conferences received more in rebated funds than ever before. The Gift of Hope Scholars Program has provided scholarships for more than 4,000 students during the past four years.

"A scholarship is a protest against ignorance," said the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, top executive with the board.

"The support I receive, financially and spiritually, gives me a renewed sense of commitment because I know people believe in me," said Jamie North, a Meharry Medical College student who was the keynote speaker at the dinner. United Methodist-related Meharry is in Nashville.

Other scholarship recipients at the dinner were April J. Albin, Belmont University; Alliciah Bell, Middle Tennessee State University; Robert Cox, Vanderbilt University; Laura Forrester, MTSU; Jeffrey Gibbs and Russell Hale, both attending Martin Methodist College; Danielle Hayes, Tennessee State University; Royya James, MTSU; and Sarah Sewell and Bethany Thomas, both attending Belmont University.

By Pamela Crosby