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Act 5, 2001 (V) – Act anent Financial Support of Students for the Ministry. 22nd May 2001.

The General Assembly, considering it desirable to make more adequate arrangements for the financial support of students for the ministry, enact that:

1 The Training of the Ministry Budget be supplemented to provide a supplement for ministers repaying loans to the Student Loans Company on an annual basis equal to the amount of repayment relating to sums borrowed from the loan company for their College Course and for any prior degree courses deemed necessary for College Training provided that they also fulfil the requirements set out in sub-sections (1) to (4) below.

1.1 They are ministers in pastoral charge2s of the Free Church of Scotland, or employed by the Church in some other appropriate and approved capacity.

1.2 The repayments are made only for the duration of their pastoral charges in the Free Church of Scotland.

1.3 The repayments are made only in respect of loans taken from the Student Loans Company for a period of study of normal duration in the Free Church College for the purposes of training for the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland, and also in respect of loans taken from the SLC for period of study for Higher Education Degrees or Courses approved by the Training of the Ministry Committee and undertaken from the point of recognition by the Training of the Ministry Committee of the students as candidates for the training of the Free Church ministry. Loans taken out for study prior to acceptance for training for the Free Church Ministry will not qualify under this repayment scheme.

1.4 The loans are loans from the Student Loans Company or their successors and not from any other source.

2 For the duration of the College course (and not for any repeat years) students should be eligible to receive a grant provided that (a) they have satisfied a means test to be devised by the Training of the Ministry Committee; (b) that the amount granted is the amount specified by the means test; (c) that prior to application for a grant they have applied for the maximum loan funding available from the Student Loans Fund or their successors; and (d) that students in receipt of grant funding sign a contract to repay the grant in full if they demit pastoral office in the Free Church of Scotland, such repayments to be adjusted upwards at the discretion of the Finance, Law and Advisory Committee to reflect inflation in the period from advancement of the loan to leaving the pastoral charge – except where the minister retires or transfers to other Christian work or his case falls under such unusual circumstances that in their total discretion the Finance, Law and Advisory Committee agree he should be exempted from repayment.

3 The loan funding and grant funding should not exceed a sum of £7,500 reviewable annually by the Finance Law and Advisory Committee in the light of RPI.

4 The scheme here enacted shall be construed to apply to students who had entered the College in Autumn 2000 and to students who had completed their College course in the academic year 1999-2000.

5 The cost of the grant and loan scheme should be allocated to Presbyteries on a pro rata basis in line with the Presbytery targets.