Auxiliary considers leaving loan business

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The Auxiliary to the AVMA is considering changing its Student Loan Fund into an endowed scholarship fund under the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

And the Auxiliary could change from a nonprofit to a social organization.

Dr. Clark K. Fobian, chair of the AVMF board of directors, said the fund is large enough that investment returns should, in a typical year, be sufficient to provide $5,000 scholarships for 20 to 25 students.

"Students nowadays are graduating with tremendous loan debts, so they're not having trouble finding loans, they're having trouble finding financial assistance," Dr. Fobian said. "And so we feel that this fund that was previously called the Student Loan Fund has grown to the extent that it could be used as an endowed fund that would not be drawn upon, and just the interest from this fund then could be utilized to grant scholarships almost of the same size as the loans."

The Foundation would serve as custodian of the fund and distributor of the scholarships, Dr. Fobian said, while he expects the Auxiliary members would help evaluate applicants and ensure that the fund is appropriately used. The endowed fund would contain the "Auxiliary" name and maintain the group's presence as a contributor and supporter of the AVMA.

"This was probably the best solution to the obstacles they had in front of them," Dr. Fobian said.

Mitzi Brown, Auxiliary president, said her organization's executive board has considered creation of an endowed fund through the AVMF and was waiting for a proposal by the Foundation. Her organization is also considering switching from a nonprofit organization to a social organization, but Brown hopes to receive feedback from Auxiliary members prior to when their board will continue considering that option at a spring meeting.

Michael W. Cathey, executive director of the AVMF, said his organization's executive board has directed him to deliver a proposal to the Auxiliary by Jan. 1, and the AVMF hopes for a reply by Feb. 1. Like Dr. Fobian, Cathey said the AVMF is the foundation for the Auxiliary as well as for the AVMA, and he noted that the Student Loan Fund was under the AVMF stewardship from 1968-2004.

Cathey said student aid is already included among the AVMF's goals, and the organization provides about $500,000 in student scholarships annually.