Do You Have
The Pension Crisis
by Matt Pinson
Recently, we received a call from a student who said, “I really feel called to attend Welch College, but I just can’t afford the cost.”
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Students and their parents love our programs of study, our professors, and our campus life. But many are being hindered from participating in this life-changing mission because of the rising costs of a Welch College education. These rising costs have been caused by the worst economy since the Great Depression and unprecedented expenses for the college. Most of these expenses were triggered by new government-imposed rules on our pension plan.
As a result of adverse market conditions, in 2006, the federal government changed the regulations for organizations with traditional pension plans. These changes took effect in 2008. Welch College had one of these old-fashioned pension plans, instituted more than 50 years ago.
This change in federal regulations required the college to pay more than $850,000 in unexpected pension expenses over five years in an attempt to bring the pension plan to fully-funded status—over $850,000 in unanticipated cash expenses!
In addition to these extra cash expenses, the college has had to borrow more than $2.3 million to terminate the pension. Not knowing what the market would do or what further changes governmental regulators might make, we ended the plan, distributing retirement funds to pension plan participants. This brings the total pension-related debt to more than $3 million since 2008. All this came on top of the turbulent economy we and other ministries face.
In short, the college had no source of funding for this astronomical, unexpected expense. This came at a time when small denominational Bible colleges across the country are struggling because of decreased giving, and more and more students are staying home to attend lower-cost state schools.
Now more than ever, we need your help to erase this deficit. This will allow us to hold down tuition costs and give more scholarships to students who have answered God’s call but cannot afford to attend Welch College. We will be able to help them find their place in God’s kingdom and give them tools to fulfill that calling.
If 110,000 people (less than one half of Free Will Baptists) gave just $28.63, we would be able to retire this debt.
Please pray and make a decision about what you can give to help us eliminate this pension deficit. Your gift will enable needy students who want to be part of this Christian community of faith and learning to fulfill God’s calling on their lives.
Please be assured that Welch College is ever mindful of being a good steward of the funds you give us. We have diligently cut expenses and are recognized for our conservative and responsible financial practices. Thank you for supporting Welch College in this important effort.
About the Writer: Matt Pinson is president of Welch College. Learn more at www.Welch.edu.