JELF loans nearly $60,000 in Tidewater’s Jewish community

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Other News

Financial aid applications for 2023-24 school year re-open.
Deadline: September 30, 2023

With more than 45 million Americans in some form of outstanding interest-bearing student loan debt, 0% interest loans can help save borrowers thousands of dollars in high interest-bearing debt each year.

JELF (Jewish Education Loan Fund), through its partnership with Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, assisted 10 local Jewish students with nearly $60,000 in interest-free loans this past year. JELF loans are designed to help cover costs associated with educational and living expenses that other financial aid often does not cover, such as travel, rent, food, and books. These interest free loans help bridge the gap between a student’s total financial resources and the cost of attending school.

Since 1961, JELF has provided more than $14 million to more than 5,000 students from JELF’s five-state region of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia (excluding metro DC). While many organizations provide interest-free loans, JELF is distinct in that it is the only Jewish organization in the U.S. focused solely on higher education.

JELF has a 99% repayment rate and believes that money should not stand between a student and the education that they need to excel in life. The strength of the longstanding “free loan” model is based on funds lent to those in need, and then paid back to serve the next student – and so on. As funds are recycled indefinitely, the organization’s sustainability allows it to always help future students in need. In addition, hundreds of former JELF recipients continue donating to JELF each year after completing their repayment.

“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, former JELF board chair and long-time volunteer.

“JELF has been a life saver for my daughter,” says one local Jewish mother on the impact the JELF loan has had on her daughter’s education.

“After a recent divorce, it’s been a struggle to assist her with her school expenses. Even after getting assistance from FAFSA and her being a Resident Assistant to aid with the expenses, ensuring she has money for supplies was a struggle,” says the mom. “Thankfully, JELF offers an interest free loan for her to cover supplies and some of the tuition debt she will now have to carry.”

Applications for JELF’s interest-free loans for higher education (college, graduate school, and vocational programs) is open through the end of September for students that missed the first application period and need assistance for Spring/Summer 2024.

Jewish Family Service of Tidewater administers the local JELF Program. For more information about JELF in Tidewater, contact JFS at 757-459-4640. The deadline is September 30.

To qualify, an applicant must be:

  • A permanent resident of Fla., Ga., S.C., N.C., and Va. (excluding metro DC) but can attend any U.S. accredited school.
  • Enrolled full-time in a program leading to a degree or certificate.
  • In good academic standing.
  • A U.S. citizen or have lawful immigration status.
  • Able to provide a designated co-signer.
  • Planning to accept federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans (FAFSA application required).