“Today’s world is competitive, more than it’s ever been. I believe men and women need to get a type of education which will enable them to meet the exigencies [urgent needs] of life. … Men and women need to be prepared for a vastly broader scope than we’ve ever had before. ... [The Perpetual Education Fund] is a fund that will go far into the future.” Thomas S. Monson, in news conference, February 4, 2008; see Church News, Feb. 9, 2008
The Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) was established in 2001 during general conference when Gordon B. Hinckley, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced a “bold initiative” to help youth in developing areas "rise out of the poverty they and generations before them have known." He spoke of returned missionaries and other ambitious young men and women who have great capacity but meager opportunities:
“I believe the Lord does not wish to see His people condemned to live in poverty. I believe He would have the faithful enjoy the good things of the earth. … In an effort to remedy this [lack of opportunity], we propose a plan … which we believe is inspired by the Lord. … We shall call it the Perpetual Education Fund.” President Hinckley further declared, “Education is the key to opportunity” (“The Perpetual Education Fund,” Ensign, May 2001, 52–53).
The PEF program is patterned after the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which helped more than 30,000 early Church members journey to the Salt Lake Valley from Europe in the mid to late 1800s.
The program is funded through contributions of Church members and others who support its mission. It is a revolving resource in which money is loaned to an individual to help pay for training or advanced education. When a student has graduated and is working, he or she then pays back the loan to the fund at a low interest rate.