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United Methodist loans can now be repaid online

By Vicki Brown*
Sept. 12, 2007 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)

A newly launched online repayment system will make repaying United Methodist student loans easier and improve efficiency in processing scholarships and loan applications.

"We are moving into the 21st century," said Angella Current-Felder of the Sept. 1 online launch by the Office of Loans and Scholarships at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

"This is the first step in making all of our services available online and much more convenient for those repaying loans or applying for college aid," said Current-Felder, executive director of the Office of Loans and Scholarships. The system was developed with SunTrust Bank.

Beginning in 2008, United Methodist students also can apply for scholarships and loans online.

In addition, students will be able to go online and track the status of an application to see if it is complete. For instance, a scholarship applicant can learn if a letter of reference is missing or if the application is approved pending verification of enrollment.

"This new system … will enhance the effective and efficient processing of scholarships, loans and loan repayments."
-Angella Current-Felder

The new system, called Colleague and developed by Datatel Inc., also will allow frequent e-mail communication with applicants, said Allyson Collinsworth, scholarships administrator.

"In the past, we sent a letter saying these items are missing. They will still get snail mail, but with the new system, they will get constant e-mail reminders about what is missing," she said.

The enhanced technology will be used to verify an applicant’s church and annual conference and will make it easier to produce reports and analyze data about who gets loans and scholarships. In addition, it will enhance communications with church pastors and annual conferences about scholarship and loan programs.

"This new system will facilitate communications with United Methodist constituencies and provide online access to United Methodist students attending colleges, universities and seminaries. It will enhance the effective and efficient processing of scholarships, loans and loan repayments," Current-Felder said.

Loans, scholarships and offerings

As of March, students have been able to borrow more money at a lower interest rate, according to Current-Felder. The amount a student can borrow was doubled to $5,000, and the interest rate was dropped to 5 percent. As of the end of August, more than $1.7 million of the $1.8 million allocated has been loaned to students needing financial help for the fall semester of 2007.

Angella Current-Felder

Offerings from Student Day, observed the last Sunday in November, support other United Methodist scholarship and loan programs. Last year, the board awarded $3.5 million in scholarships to 2,800 United Methodist students and loaned nearly $1 million to college students. Since 2000, about $13.8 million has been loaned to 5,671 United Methodists attending college.

To learn more about United Methodist loans and scholarships, visit www.ghbem.org.

United Methodist churches can order resources for Special Sunday offerings by calling United Methodist Communications at (888) 346-3862 or visiting www.umcgiving.org/ss.

*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry

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