United Methodist Students Disappointed as Giving Down
A total of 1,237 United Methodist students who qualified for a scholarship walked away empty-handed this year because there was less money to award and more students applied.
“The members of our committee who review the applications and staff members feel terrible when we have to turn away qualified students,” said Allyson Collinsworth, director of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Office of Loans and Scholarships.
A total of $1.7 million in scholarships has been awarded to 1,412 students in 2011. That included $157,000 that GBHEM’s Executive Committee and the Loans and Scholarships Committee agreed to move from loan funds in order to award more scholarships.
The additional funds were used to cover specific needs – first, ensuring that all United Methodist seminarians at each of the 13 United Methodist schools of theology received a $2,000 scholarship. Second, the money was used to cover a shortfall in renewing scholarships for seminarians at University Senate-approved seminaries that are not United Methodist. Finally, the remainder was used to cover scholarship renewals for undergraduates at UM-related colleges and universities.
Collinsworth said both GBHEM’s Executive Committee and the Loans and Scholarships Committee felt it was important that with reduced funds, the money be targeted to students who will be the future clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church. In addition, the committee members paid special attention to church leadership and involvement in reviewing applications for undergraduate scholarships, she said.
About 930 students at UM-related colleges and universities will be awarded $1.2 million from funds restricted to students nominated by those schools. That will bring the total awards for 2011 to about $3 million for 2,343 students. In 2010, a total of 2,383 students received $3.2 million in scholarships.
Collinsworth said a number of factors resulted in more students being turned away. First, while investment earnings are improving, because of the poor economy in the last few years, the amount approved for awarding from each of the 60 programs administered by GBHEM was reduced – with reductions ranging from 10 percent for some programs to as much as 50 percent for one program.
Also, the number of applications has skyrocketed since 2009, when L&S began accepting applications online.
Money for UM scholarships and loans comes from a variety of funding sources – donations to Special Sundays with offerings, earnings on investments of gifts from wills and annuities, and repayments and interest on student loans.
Student Day offerings have declined from $602,309 in 2007 to $515,271 in 2010. That was up about $30,000 over the collections for 2009 of $484,188 last year.
Collinsworth said support for United Methodist Student Day and the other Special Sundays with offerings are crucial to prevent further reductions in scholarship awards. Student Day is observed the last Sunday in November – Nov. 27 this year – or any other day a church chooses. And, anyone can give online at anytime at www.umcgiving.org/umstudentday.
Ninety percent of Student Day collections go to the United Methodist scholarship programs, while 10 percent is for student loans. Each United Methodist-related college gets money from the offering for scholarships, and each participating annual conference gets 10 percent of Student Day receipts to award to their own merit scholars.
Offerings for World Communion Sunday, observed on Oct. 2 this year, or any other day the church chooses, were $912,720 in 2010, down from $1.2 million in 2007. Half of the offering provides scholarships for international and
Native American Ministries Sunday, observed on the third Sunday of Easter or any other day a church chooses, nurtures mission with Native Americans and provides scholarships for United Methodist Native American seminarians. The 2011 offering for this Special Sunday was $324,880, down from $367,251 in 2007.
*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
How to Observe UM Student Day
Churches are encouraged to observe Student Day on Nov. 27 or any other day that this is convenient for the church. In addition, individuals can now contribute online with a credit card at any time at the UMCGiving website, where you can also order free promotional resources, video presentations, and worship resources. Or call United Methodist Communications at 888-346-3862 to order resources.