Financial Assistance Policy
Financial Assistance Policy for Certified Candidates
West Michigan Conference Board of Ordained Ministry
Candidates Enrolled in Master’s Degree Studies
Certified Candidates of the West Michigan Conference are eligible, and may apply annually for financial assistance through the Board of Ordained Ministry, provided they are attending a University Senate approved School of Theology.
Financial assistance shall be granted on a per credit hour basis, upon proof of enrollment, up to a maximum of 28 credit hours (or equivalent Quarter Hours) per calendar year, for a period of no more than five (5) years from the beginning of studies, not to exceed the total funding limits set by the Board of Ordained Ministry.
Financial assistance for On-Line course work shall be limited to the number of hours allowed under the Board of Ordained Ministry On-Line Learning Policy.
At the discretion of the Board, and based upon recommendation of the Registrars Committee, course work taken at schools that are not University Senate approved may be approved for financial assistance upon proof of transfer of those credits to an approved school.
All financial assistance from the West Michigan Conference shall be considered as a Loan, secured by a Master Promissory Loan Agreement, which shall be forgiven or repaid as outlined below.
Local Pastors Enrolled in the Course of Study
Certified Candidates serving as Local Pastors who are enrolled in a GBHEM approved Course of Study are eligible for financial assistance toward the cost of courses taken while under appointment as follows:
Under Appointment – $200 per course, up to FOUR Courses per year.
Not Under Appointment – $200 per course, up to FOUR courses per year.
Certified Candidates taking Master’s level course work at a University Senate approved School of Theology for purposes of fulfilling Course of Study requirements are eligible for financial assistance of $200 per class (not per hour), with the same course per year limit as outlined above.
All financial assistance received toward completion of the Course of Study shall be considered a grant, and is therefore not subject to repayment.
Local Pastors and Associate Members Enrolled in the Advanced Course of Study
Local Pastors and Associate Members who are enrolled in a GBHEM approved Advanced Course of Study are eligible for financial assistance commensurate with the support afforded those in Master’s Degree studies up to the following limits:
Up to 28 Hours per year at the Board approved rate.
Financial assistance for Advanced Course of Study shall be considered as a loan, secured by a Master Promissory Loan Agreement, which shall be forgiven or repaid as outlined below.
Candidates Transferring Into the West Michigan Conference
Certified Candidates who are received as such by a District Committee on Ordained Ministry of the West Michigan Conference shall be eligible for financial assistance as outlined above, provided they have not previously, nor are simultaneously receiving financial assistance for the same course work through their prior Annual Conference relationship.
In cases where financial assistance has been or is being received from another Annual Conference, candidates shall be eligible for scholarship assistance equal to the difference between the amount of assistance they received through their prior Conference relationship and, if higher, that amount for which they would have been eligible through the West Michigan Conference.
Forgiveness / Repayment of Student Loans
Following graduation from theological school or completion of the Course of Study, all loans extended to Certified Candidates by the West Michigan Conference Board of Ordained Ministry shall be forgiven at the rate of 20% per year of full or part time service under appointment in the West Michigan Conference.
Years served in an Extension Ministry, even if the Extension Ministry is beyond the boundaries of the West Michigan Conference, shall be counted, provided that the recipient is seeking or has been granted membership in the West Michigan Annual Conference.
Except as outlined below, in the event a loan recipient fails to complete five (5) years of service under appointment in the West Michigan Conference, loans shall be forgiven on a pro-rated basis of 20% per year served, with any remaining balance amortized and payable over five (5) years at a rate of 5% interest per year. At its discretion the Board of Ordained Ministry may extend the payback period for up to 10 years.
If a loan recipient is granted Incapacity Leave or placed on Involuntary Leave prior to completion of five years of service under appointment, any remaining loan balance not covered by years of service shall be automatically forgiven in full.
If a loan recipient is granted Family Leave, or is Appointed to School to further studies beyond the initial Master’s Degree, they shall cease receiving credit for years of service until such time that they return to active service under appointment. If, after five (5) years they have not returned to appointed service, repayment of any outstanding loan shall be initiated, unless an extension is approved by the Board.
If a Local Pastor who is in, or has completed the Advanced Course of Study is discontinued or not appointed, prior to completion of five (5) years of service under appointment following completion of studies, any outstanding loan balance shall automatically be forgiven.
If requested in writing, which shall include rationale for the request, the Board of Ordained Ministry may, at its sole discretion, take into account extenuating circumstances and/or financial hardship and forgive all or part of any loan balance due to be repaid as the result of a failure or inability to complete five (5) years of service following completion of studies.
Approved by the West Michigan Conference Board of Ordained Ministry May 2011