The combination of the recession and an online application process dramatically increased the demand for United Methodist loans and scholarships this year – making contributions to the United Methodist Student Day offering even more important.

More than 9,000 students applied for United Methodist scholarships this year with 2,877 submitting all the information required for consideration by the deadline, says Angella Current-Felder, who directs the office of loans and scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

In 2008, 3,365 students received about $4.6 million in scholarships. Awards totals are not complete for 2009 yet. So far this year, the agency has provided $1.6 million in loans to 333 students.

In 2008, $554,252 was given to the United Methodist Student Day offering, which helps fund the loans and scholarships. Churches are encouraged to observe Student Day on Nov. 29 or any other day that is convenient for the congregation. Individuals can now contribute online with a credit card at www.umcgiving.org/umstudentday.

Ninety percent of the contributions support the scholarship programs, while 10 percent is for student loans. Each United Methodist-related college receives money from the offering to use for scholarships. Each participating annual conference gets 10 percent of its Student Day receipts to fund its own merit scholars.

Observe Student Day on Nov. 29 or any other Sunday that is convenient for your church. Order free promotional resources, video presentations and worship resources at www.umcgiving.or/umstudentday or by calling toll-free United Methodist Communications at 888-346-3862 to order resources. Learn more about United Methodist loans and scholarships at www.gbhem.org.

Vicki Brown, associate editor General Board of Higher Education and Ministry