New LDS Pathway program will affect the Church’s Perpetual Education Fund

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Editor’s note: This story pairs with a main story titled “BYU-Pathway Worldwide slated to open the doors to global higher-education

BYU-Idaho’s online educational program called Pathway is expanding to the other LDS Church-owned colleges and universities, while some speculate the church’s other educational assistance program, the Perpetual Education Fund, might see some cutbacks.

The Perpetual Education Fund, established in 2001, eight years before Pathway, was announced by then-LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley on March 31.

He said it was “a bold initiative” to help youth in developing areas “rise out of the poverty they and generations before them have known,” in the church’s semiannual General Conference.

The program has since joined with Self-Reliance Services, another of the LDS Church’s efforts, in helping prepare members for temporal and spiritual self-reliance. This is achieved through self-reliance courses along with education on how to start and grow businesses. The program also teaches job interview skills and helps students develop an education plan.

The areas in red represent where Perpetual Education Fund loans are currently available around the world. (Morgan Allred)

The Perpetual Education Fund has helped almost 79,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in achieving their goals through low-cost education loans.

Nearly 20,000 Latter-day Saints had Perpetual Education Fund loans in 2016  — more than any previous year, according to statistics published by LDS Philanthropies.

Pathway provides a reduced-cost, LDS Church-sponsored online education.

Clark Gilbert, formerly BYU—Idaho’s president, takes the helm of the expanding Pathway program this month.

Gilbert said the two programs are different and separate, but they do work together.

“These are independent efforts that work in partnership,” said Gilbert. “We work with Self-Reliance Services all over the world to determine which academic programs have the best job placement opportunities in each of the areas of the church.”

Gilbert said the two programs are currently independent, but officials have been looking at the possibility of making the Perpetual Education Fund a resource for those hoping to get an education through Pathway, which is also subsidized by the LDS Church.

Andrei Popa, a native to Romania who is a Pathway student, said he opted to do Pathway over the Perpetual Education Fund because he was not interested in attending a school in Romania.

“I do not like the local universities because it’s a lot of talking and not much practice,” Popa said. “Also, a lot of people at my local university have to pay the professor in order for them to pass.”

Some students who do not wish to attend an LDS Church-sponsored university but still require assistance to fund their education can look into the Perpetual Education Fund as a possibility.

The church’s website outlines the requirements for those seeking an education loan through the Perpetual Education Fund:

  • Be a temple-worthy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • If a young single adult, be enrolled and active in an LDS institute of religion (married students and those over 30 are not required to attend institute)
  • Live and attend school in a Perpetual Education Fund–approved country. Currently, the Perpetual Education Fund is not available in the United States or Canada.
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