Giving down even as more apply

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nearly 1,000 United Methodists who qualified for a scholarship this year walked away empty-handed. Even more students are expected to be disappointed in 2011 unless giving to scholarship funds increases dramatically.

“A number of factors have contributed to the problem,” said James Harding, interim executive director of the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry’s Office of Loans & Scholarships.

“First, the applications skyrocketed after we began accepting applications online in 2009,” Harding said. “At the same time, investment earnings were down due to the poor economy, even as giving to World Communion Sunday, United Methodist Student Day and Native American Ministries Sunday continues to decline.”

Money for United Methodist 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 $484,188 last year.

“We turned down 954 qualified United Methodist students in 2010 simply because we didn’t have enough money,” Harding said. In 2010, 2,411 students received scholarships totaling $3.3 million.

Support for United Methodist Student Day is crucial if we are to honor the church’s commitment to educating a new generation of Christian leaders.

Student Day is observed the last Sunday in November, Nov. 28 this year, or any other day a church chooses. Anyone can give online anytime at United Methodist Student at www.umcgiving.org.