Miami, FL– January 13, 2020 – In 2019, 23 students from the Miami-Dade area received interest- free loans from JELF, an Atlanta based organization that funded 296 Jewish students at 124 different colleges and universities with a total of $1,278,194 in interest-free loans.  Jewish Community Services of South Florida is the local partner for the Atlanta organization.   JELF is proud that it’s 100% interest-free loans for higher education (college, graduate school, and vocational programs) helped more Jewish students with larger average loans than ever before in 2019.

To qualify for a JELF loan, a student applicant must be:

  • A permanent resident of FL, GA, SC, NC, and VA (excluding the greater DC area) who plans to attend 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
  • Able to provide a designated co-signer
  • Able to demonstrate financial need (2019 FAFSA application required)

The need for student loans is more important now than ever before. New statistics report that since 1980, the cost of college tuition has gone up 260% for both public and private four-year colleges. By contrast, inflation rates have only risen by 2.7%. This is why approximately 43 million Americans collectively owe $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt, plus an estimated $119 billion in private student loans.

Charts showing average cost of college over the years

JELF’s loans go beyond paying for rising tuition costs. They also help cover the educational and living expenses that other financial aid doesn’t offer, such as travel, rent, food and books. As a result, JELF’s no-interest loans help borrowers save thousands of dollars in high-interest bearing debt. As one recent “JELFie” put it, “JELF’s gift is truly in the savings.”

While many organizations provide interest-free loans, JELF is distinct in that it is the only Jewish organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on higher education. Students and their families can apply online at starting March 1. The application will be available until the April 30th deadline. Supporting documents are due a week later.

“My college journey was made possible by JELF,” says Joshua Klafter, a recent JELF loan recipient. “I can’t express how appreciative I am for its existence.”

In addition to being funded by support from individual donors and family foundations, JELF is proud to boast a 99% repayment rate. It’s a sign that the community strongly believes that money should not stand between a student and the education that he or she needs to excel in life. Since 1961, JELF has provided more than $12.5 million in the form of over 4,500 loans.

For more information about JELF in Miami-Dade, contact JCS’ Laurie Turner at 305-271-9000 x 266 or


David Cohen, Marketing Director

Greater Miami Jewish Federation LogoJCS is a Beneficiary Agency of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.