Interest-free Loans Bridge the Gap for Miami-Dade County Students
At a time when so many families are struggling to pay for even the most basic necessities, finding dollars to send a child to college can be even more challenging. But thanks to the Jewish Educational Loan Fund (JELF), some Jewish Miami-Dade County students were able to find the “last dollars” they needed to participate in higher education.
For the 2012-2013 school year, a record number of applicants came to JELF seeking to fill the gap between the resources they assembled through grants, loans and scholarships and the real cost of their education. JELF responded to the rising need by loaning more than ever before in a single year – more than $89,000 to students in the Miami-Dade County area alone, a nearly 15% increase over loans the previous school year. In all, JELF has awarded more than $675,000 in interest-free loans to Jewish students throughout Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia for the coming school year.
Based in Atlanta, JELF makes need-based interest-free loans for post-secondary education, including college, graduate school and vocational courses of study. In South Florida, JELF is administered by Jewish Community Services of South Florida, a local partner agency of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
Applicants for JELF loans must be residents of Miami-Dade County for at least a year and be eligible for financial aid through their school. Dollars provided through JELF are considered “last-dollar financing,” bridging the final gap of all other funding sources.
While JELF currently administers over $3.6 million in outstanding loans, it has maintained its impressive 99 percent repayment rate. As students repay their loans, JELF uses those payments to make new loans, creating a circle of tzedakah. As one loan recipient recently expressed to JELF, “I just wanted to say thank you to JELF for another generous loan for my next school year. I will use the support to its fullest capacity in my path to my career and life!”
Applications for a JELF interest-free loan for the Spring 2013 semester will be available September 2-30, 2012. Applications for the 2013-2014 academic year will be available on JELF’s website at www.jelf.org in March 2013. For additional information, contact JELF Executive Director Lara Dorfman at 770-396-3080 or visit www.jelf.org.