August 19, 2019

JFLA Offers Loans for College Students

As students celebrate their high school graduations, many are already navigating the high cost of student loans as they prepare to enter college. However, there is one resource for local students that might help alleviate that burden.

The Los Angeles Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) offers interest-free loans for students — Jewish or not — who live in L.A. County. 

“You have a group of people or families who can afford to pay $75,000 a year to go to Harvard or wherever and then you have the rest of the world,” Rachel Grose, executive director of the Jewish Free Loan Association, told the Journal. “We see it here all the time: students who are going to graduate school and they owe $200,000 or more for their undergrad [schooling]. It sticks with them.”

Jewish and non-Jewish students who live in Los Angeles County can apply to JFLA, which offers loans for any post-secondary schools.

When Grose became executive director two years ago, the loan cap was $3,500 a year. Students can now borrow up to $10,000 a year with a total loan of $35,000. JFLA makes the payment process as easy and painless as possible, according to Grose.

“Since our student loan program was established in the late 1980s, we have always required the student pay a small monthly amount, and that is our way of remaining in touch with them,” she said. 

“You have a group of people or families who can afford to pay $75,000 a year to go to Harvard or wherever and then you have the rest of the world.” — Rachel Grose

Students pay $75 per month while they are in school, regardless of the loan amount or their balance. The money is taken directly out of the student’s bank account.  

To apply, students need to fill out the pre-loan application available on JFLA’s website and then undergo an interview. To be approved for a loan, the student will require guarantors with a steady income and good credit. With one guarantor, students can borrow up to $5,000; with two, they can borrow up to $10,000. Married parents count as one guarantor. Guarantors can be anyone over 25, and students generally ask their grandparents, aunts or siblings, Grose said.

“We are in the risk-taking business and our objective is to help all students graduate,” Grose said. “We will go back and forth with the client. If they come in with a terrible guarantor, someone’s going to call them and say, ‘Look, with this guarantor, we can only loan you X dollars. If you want Y dollars, you need to find another guarantor.’ ”

Grose admits that $10,000 per year may not be enough for some students. “It depends where you’re going to college,” she said. “If you are going to Santa Monica College or Northridge or Cal State Long Beach, our loan is going to cover you. If you’re going to USC, it’s not going to cover you. I think part of this is also a real education for students. They need to understand what they’re getting themselves into.”

JFLA also helps out with grants and scholarships. “We partner with JVS [Jewish Vocational Services] and their scholarship program,” Grose said, “so anyone who goes to JVS and applies for a scholarship gets a referral to us. A lot of agencies outside of JVS refer [students] to us. There are no other interest-free lending services. We’re the one shop in town.”

The deadline to apply for a JFLA college loan for the fall 2019 semester is June 14. Applications will be reviewed in August. For more information, visit jfla.org/for-borrowers/types-of-loans/student-loans.