The End of a Remarkable Year!

2021 has been remarkable in many ways at SMU.  We rebounded from the COVID-19 shutdown.  Students were glad to be back on campus.  The University announced the public phase of our next capital campaign, SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow.  Already, over the last four “silent years” of the campaign, more than 42% has been raised of the projected $1.5 billion campaign goal.  That includes $20.7 million raised by Perkins, 35% of the total we raised in the previous campaign.

We all know that education is important, but here are some sobering facts about the current realities of higher ed:

  • Average student loan debt has risen dramatically in the last decade as families try to keep up with soaring college costs. The average total student debt continues to teeter around $30,000, according to S. News data.
  • Americans owe more than $1.6 trillion in student loan debt, spread out over 44 million borrowers. That’s about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt!

Most graduates of Perkins, or of any theological seminary, do not enter into lucrative careers.  The type of education that we offer is costly because it is personal, intensive, and comprehensive.  In spite of that, we do not want our graduates to be saddled with overwhelming debt.  That is why we ask friends like you to participate in their education by giving toward scholarships.

December is a good time to make sure you have contributed to the charitable causes which align with your values. To that end, I ask for your help in funding affordable theological education for our students.  Visit https://giving.smu.edu/schools-areas/perkins/ to make your contribution today.  While you’re there, why not consider making your gift recurring either monthly, quarterly, or yearly?

Remember, if your donation is sent by mail, it must be postmarked by December 31 in order to count in the 2021 tax year.  If giving online, the gift must be received by that date.

Any gift you make helps to provide leadership for the church and society for years to come as graduates finish their studies and enter into productive service.  Thank you for your part in their education.

At the end of this year of great change, let me remind you of some opportunities.

A couple of key provisions of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act were extended into 2021 (and, in one case, increased). Here’s what the stimulus package means for you.

Tax Incentives When You Give to Charity:

  1. The cap on deductions for cash contributions:
    Contributions to public charities are generally limited to a percentage of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). The CARES Act lifted the cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, increasing it from 60% to 100% of AGI for 2020 and 2021. Any excess contributions available can be carried over to the next five years. (For corporations, the law raised the annual limit from 10% to 25% of taxable income.)  The requirements for deductibility up to 100% of one’s AGI is that the donations must be made in cash (not stock or appreciated securities) and given to a public charity (which would exclude a donor advised fund or most private foundations, but of course includes Perkins/SMU.)
  2. The universal charitable deduction for cash gifts:
    The universal charitable deduction was not only extended in 2021 but given a well-deserved upgrade. The new deduction is $300 for single filers and $600 for married couples filing jointly. This is available to taxpayers who take the standard deduction. This tax incentive is available for cash gifts to qualified charities (but not to supporting organizations or donor advised funds). public charity (which would exclude a donor advised fund or most private foundations, but of course includes Perkins/SMU.)

Also,

  • IRA roll-over is a wonderful way to fulfill your giving plans and not diminish your operational cash. Remember that you do not get a tax receipt for these gifts, but in turn, you do not have to declare that amount as income.
  • Appreciated Securities. The fantastic market run-up makes 2021 a perfect year to consider utilizing this tool.  Make sure to work with your tax advisor as you plan this and other strategies.
  • Real estate. Like appreciated securities, real estate has gained value greatly in most areas of the country.
  • Planned gifts of various kinds. Wills, trusts, life insurance, charitable remainder trusts, and other planning tools are readily available in the tax code.  Work carefully with your attorney and tax consultant.  For help from SMU, contact giftplanning@smu.edu.

If you are interested in making a gift online, you can go to https://giving.smu.edu/schools-areas/perkins/ and follow the instructions.  Checks should be made out to “SMU” with a memo note: “SMU Fund for Perkins” and mailed to:

Perkins Development
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133

Thank you for your continued support of Perkins School of Theology.  Feel free to email me with any giving questions at johnma@smu.edu.

John A. Martin
Director of Development