Learn everything you need to know about the JELF loan process, from application to repayment – including JELF’s eligibility requirements in our 2019 Information for Applicants Booklet.
There is no application fee to apply for a JELF loan.
JELF loans are available to students who have been residents of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and/or Virginia (excluding metro-DC) for at least 1 year immediately preceding the application deadline.
When there are questions about your residency, JELF will consider, among other things, where you (or your parents, if you are a dependent) filed your state income tax return.
This is not a problem. As long as you reside in JELF's 5-state region, JELF can consider your application. Please contact JELF's Central Office for further assistance at [email protected].
JELF loans are based on financial need, not GPA; however, loan recipients are required to be in good academic standing and to have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 in order to be eligible for funding.
JELF looks at your parents' tax returns (if you are a dependent or age 25 and under) and/or your tax return, as well as the additional financial information you provide on the loan application and during your in-person interview. We evaluate all the information from your loan application and supporting documents each year because we recognize that financial circumstances can change from year to year.
No, JELF serves students of all ages. While the majority of our loan recipients are in their late-teens and 20's, we also receive applications from Jewish students of all ages.
No -- as long as your school is an accredited U.S. institution and you are enrolled full-time in a program leading to a degree or professional certificate. JELF expects you to make sound decisions in choosing a school based on your field of study and economic/familial considerations. For example, JELF would not fund a student who has chosen to attend an out-of-state school simply to be with friends or for a change in climate.
JELF accepts applications for both undergraduate as well as graduate school. However, JELF has a limited amount of funds to loan out each year and because an undergraduate degree is generally considered to be the basic requirement for a job these days, JELF's first funding priority is undergraduate students. After assisting all qualified undergraduate students, JELF will then assist graduate students if it still has funds available to loan out.
The loans granted by JELF are “last dollar,” which means that they provide the final dollars that a student needs to go to school. In 2018, the average undergraduate and graduate loans was $3,600.
JELF expects you to apply for and accept all possible scholarships and other loans before turning to JELF. For that reason, JELF applicants are required to file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and accept any government loans for which they qualify, including both Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
JELF also expects students to contribute to the cost of their education by working during the summer and, when possible, during the school year. We also expect that students will use earnings from past years, as well as money set aside in savings, to help finance their education.
JELF does not require parents to take on Parent Plus loans. However, sometimes a student may find that a parent plus (or private) loan is necessary if the gap between the student's expected costs and available financial resources is too large for JELF to cover without one. Unfortunately, repayment of Parent Plus loans begins immediately, and JELF recognizes that many parents in need of assistance for their children's education cannot meet that payment schedule, which is why this type of loan is not a requirement.
This depends on how much your schooling — including tuition, room and board, fees, transportation and certain living expenses — will cost and how much you have in financial resources. JELF subtracts your total financial resources (i.e. all scholarships, government and other loans, what you and your parents are contributing) from the total costs of attending school in order to determine your individual JELF loan need.
JELF loans are designed to help fund the total college experience. Therefore, we take into account the cost of tuition and fees (but not social or extracurricular fees, such as fees for sororities and fraternities), books and supplies, room and board, transportation to/from school, travel to/from home (twice annually) and limited personal expenses (budgeted at $125 per month).
JELF’s funding cycle is one academic year, therefore, JELF will not cover more than four quarters or three semesters at a time. JELF accepts loan applications in the spring for the upcoming fall, winter/spring, and, when applicable, summer term of next year and accepts loan applications in the fall for the following winter/spring and/or summer terms. If you need assistance from JELF for more than one year, you must reapply each year that you need it – there are no automatic loan renewals.
This depends on whether you are still relying on any parental support.
A dependent student is under age 25 and is claimed on his or her parents' income tax form(s) for the previous year.
An independent student is 25+ or, if under 25, is not claimed on his or her parents' income tax form and receives no parental support. If you are under 25 and state that you are an independent student, JELF will require that you submit your parents' tax returns for verification.
Yes, JELF requires co-signers for each loan that it grants, regardless of whether the student is dependent or independent. The co-signer is usually one or both parents, a legal guardian, or relative. The co-signer of the loan is legally responsible for its repayment if the loan recipient defaults. JELF reserves the right to request a second co-signer. JELF also reserves the right to contact co-signers, require tax returns for proof of income, and run credit checks on co-signers, with their permission.
Only the Local JELF Administrator (LJA) in your home community (typically a social or community worker at your local Jewish social services agency, such as a Jewish Family Services) and the appropriate JELF staff will know that you have applied for a loan. We are sensitive to the issues that cause people to seek financial assistance, and we therefore ensure your privacy by assigning you a code number when your application reaches the JELF office. We never sell lists of our loan applicants to outside parties and will only disclose the names of a recipient with the recipient's permission.
Of course. Most of our applicants do not know their total financial resources when they initially fill out their JELF loan application – which is why JELF requires that all applicants also submit their schools' financial aid award letter and cost of attendance. If you, your LJA (Local JELF Administrator) or JELF staff determine at some point along the way that you will have sufficient financial resources without JELF assistance, we will advise you accordingly and subsequently withdraw your application from consideration. You certainly do not have to accept your JELF loan. And even if you find you have sufficient money to finance the current year, you can always re-apply for subsequent school years as needed.
Yes, JELF only provides interest-free loans (as opposed to scholarships) in order to ensure that its loan program is sustainable and will be around to help other students for many more years. As each student loan is repaid, the money is recycled to help future students in need.
Repayment of a JELF loan begins approximately 6 months after either student's final graduation or after a student has terminated their course of study. For example, if you graduate in May or June, your first payment will be due January 1 of the following year. You are not expected to repay JELF while you are still a student and can therefore defer repayment until your final graduation.
JELF contacts the student approximately four months after graduation confirming they have graduated, what their payments will be and to expect their first statement two months later. For this reason, we make a concerted effort to keep track of students’ graduation dates – requesting updates/changes on the final page of each signed promissory note- and ask students/cosigners to let us know if they will graduate earlier than expected or later, or if they terminate their studies.
Students receive their first statement the month prior to when it is due, along with another email reminding them that their payment will be due the first of the month after receiving the statement. Statements are sent via email. We encourage students/cosigners to keep us updated on any changes to their contact information --email addresses, cell phone numbers, address.
JELF's repayment program is graduated, meaning that in your first years after graduation, when your income is likely to be at its smallest, you will make the smallest payments.
In years 1 and 2 of repayment, you will repay 5% of the total amount borrowed. In years 3 and 4, you will repay 10% each year of the total borrowed amount. In years 5 and 6, you will repay 15% each year of the total borrowed amount; and in years 7 and 8, you will repay 20% of the total borrowed amount each year.
You are always welcome to accelerate your repayment as much as you would like. By doing so, you will allow JELF to help even more students in need.
There is no penalty for paying off a loan early.
Students can send personal checks each month or set up monthly payments to JELF from their banks (ACH). JELF does not accept credit cards for student repayments ---we’d lose a percentage and don’t charge any interest to begin with, and payment by credit cards would essentially turn a student’s non-interest bearing debt into interest bearing debt.
If a student sends double the amount due one month, as long as the student tell us that the payment is for a one or two month period, then the next month’s payment is covered. If payment is by check, they would write the coverage period in the memo line (e.g. January and February). If they have ACH, they need to email our office with their increased payment amount request and our office would help set that up.
You will receive your final promissory note stamped "Paid in Full" and will join the ranks of JELF's Alumni!
It is our hope that one day you will continue to pay it forward to help other deserving students like yourself. We will invite you to join our "Full Circle Society," a giving society of individuals who, just like you, received JELF loans, paid them off in full -- and are now in a position to donate to JELF and help future generations.
JELF's standard repayment period is 8 years, please see our repayment page for more details. however many students repay their loans to JELF well before that amount of time.