Home Community JELF seeks help bridging $1 million gap in Educational Loan demand

JELF seeks help bridging $1 million gap in Educational Loan demand


With a record number of Jewish students seeking financial assistance for higher education, the Jewish Educational Loan Fund is confronting a record $1 million gap between loan demand and the organization’s available resources for the 2023-24 academic year.

Contrary to broader trends that see students across the nation deferring college or simply bypassing the classroom to enter the workforce, JELF has experienced a surge in the number of Jewish students seeking support and the total financial need they represent.

During the most recent academic year, JELF loaned $1.9 million at no interest to nearly 400 Jewish students. For the upcoming year, the number of applicants has increased by 10%, while the need these students bring has increased by nearly a third.

Rob Rickles, JELF Board Chair

“The increasing demand for JELF support attests to the unrelenting commitment to education among Jewish students and families,” noted Rob Rickles, current JELF Board Chair and a former JELF beneficiary.

“We continue to work diligently to make sure that economic challenges and high inflation do not stand in the way of our applicants pursuing their educational goals.”


Jenna Shulman, JELF CEO

Each day, Jenna Shulman, JELF CEO since 2014, and her staff hear from families struggling to make ends meet. One recent call came from a mother of three who is on disability herself and whose husband has been out of work for a year.

“Without JELF’s interest-free loans,” the mother explained, “my daughter would be struggling to attend college. This support not only eases our financial burden, but knowing it comes from our Jewish community inspires my daughter to excel academically.”

“These stories can be heartbreaking,” explains Shulman, but we are energized knowing that together, our Jewish community can seize this critical moment to shape a future where financial barriers no longer hinder the educational aspirations of Jewish students.”

To help JELF keep up with the growing demand, JELF is asking members of the Jewish community to consider stepping up their financial support. Money donated to JELF enables the organization to make new interest-free loans to current students.

Following graduation, these loans are paid off and recycled into new loans for future generations of students.

To learn more about how you can help JELF meet this extraordinary need, visit jelf.org.

About JELF:

About JELF: JELF (Jewish Educational Loan Fund) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing interest-free loans to Jewish students with demonstrated financial need, enabling them to pursue higher education. With a rich history of supporting Jewish education, JELF strives to ensure that no student is denied the opportunity to achieve their full potential due to financial constraints.

Should you or someone you know need a loan, student applications for the spring and / or summer 2024 semesters is currently open through Sept. 30 at jelf.org/app.

JELF receives an annual programming grant from the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.