Church officials say that as of December, a fund established to help increase access to education for young Mormons has helped more than 40,000 men and women across 42 countries.
The Perpetual Education Fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is for members between the ages of 18 and 30. Founded in 2001 by then-church President Gordon B. Hinckley, the fund provides low-interest loans to individuals seeking education or training and a viable job in their local community.
Program director Elder John K. Carmack says that applications to the fund in 2009 have increased by 50 percent over last year.
The program is funded through donations from church members. It is modeled after a church fund from the late 1800s that assisted Mormon converts emigrating to the U.S.