Jewish Educational Loan Fund offers interest-free higher ed loans to Jewish students

Press release from Jewish Family Services of WNC:

Applications for JELF’s interest-free loans for higher education (college, graduate school and vocational programs) will be open Sunday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 30, to Jewish students in Western North Carolina for the period January through August 2020. JELF, in partnership with the Jewish Family Services of Western North Carolina, helps Jewish students reach their academic goals. To qualify, the applicant must be:

  • A permanent resident of FL, GA, SC, NC, and VA (excluding the greater DC area), but can go to any U.S. accredited school
  • Enrolled full-time in a program leading to a degree or certificate and in good academic standing
  • A U.S. citizen or have lawful immigration status
  • Have a designated co-signer
  • Able to demonstrate financial need (2019 FAFSA application required)

The funds help pay the educational and living expenses that other financial aid doesn’t cover, such as travel, rent, food and books. JELF’s “no-interest” loans help save borrowers thousands of dollars in high-interest bearing debt. Currently, there are 45 million Americans with some form of outstanding interest-bearing student loans. 8 million Americans have a balance of $50,000 or more, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The strength of the longstanding “Free Loan” model is funds are lent to those in need, yet once the borrower can repay, the repayment goes to the next student – and so on. Thus, the same funds are recycled indefinitely, and the organization can help future students in need. In addition, donors can see their donations continue to do good far into the future. “This is the only type of organization I know of that when I write a check I know exactly where it’s going, and it keeps going. My dollars never die,” says Stan Lowenstein, a long-time JELF volunteer and current President of the Board.

There are many organizations that provide interest-free loans, but JELF is distinct in that it is the only Jewish organization in the U.S. focused solely on higher education. Students and their families can apply online at

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