Frequently Asked Questions
How does the MJFLA loan program work?
MJFLA loans money, interest-free, with funds that have been donated by individuals in our community. As the loans are repaid, those payments are recycled into more loans. In this way, borrowers actually save money as they are able to resolve their own financial situations without additional costs. Also, as they repay their loans, MJFLA clients are actually "paying it forward" to help others.
What is needed to get a loan?
In order to get a loan, one must be at least 18 years old, have sufficient income to repay the loan (in addition to their other monthly bills), be a resident of Southeastern Wisconsin, and must have people willing to guarantee the loan (guarantors). For most MJFLA loans of less than $4,000, one, or sometimes two guarantors are required, and for larger loans, two guarantors are required. Guarantors are not required for Employee Loan programs, as the employer is the guarantor.
How much can I borrow?
MJFLA Personal Loans are offered at a maximum of $4,000 with one or two guarantors, and up to $5,000 with two guarantors. Larger loans are available for certain purposes.
Do I have to live in Southeastern Wisconsin?
Yes, MJFLA serves residents of the Greater Milwaukee area and generally extends its service to those within Southern and Southeastern Wisconsin. This generally includes Madison to Sheboygan to Kenosha, and includes the 12 counties of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Dane, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Rock, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, and Sheboygan. Contact MJFLA if you are unsure if you live within our service area. All applicants must be Wisconsin residents.
Why are guarantors required?
MJFLA does not charge interest or any fees, but we do have a responsibility to make sure that every loan is repaid in full. If something happens and the borrower is not able to repay the loan, the guarantors are legally responsible to repay the loan. Less than 4% of all MJFLA loans have required any payment from a guarantor.
What are the guarantor requirements?
Guarantors must be Wisconsin residents, must be working so that they have income from employment, and must have a good credit history. A qualified guarantor is a person who is willing and financially able to repay the loan in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan. MJFLA now runs only "soft pull" credit reports. Click here for more information.
What if I don't have any income or I don't have qualified guarantors?
MJFLA endeavors to help anyone with a temporary financial need, but unfortunately this organization is not always the best option for everyone. Those without income or without guarantors will need to search for other opportunities.
What is the application process - step by step?
STEP 1 - Read all the information provided, and then submit an application online or request that an application be mailed to you.
STEP 2 - Submit the required supplemental documents.
STEP 3 - Ask your guarantor(s) to submit their guarantor application(s).
STEP 4 - Speak with an MJFLA loan coordinator.
STEP 5 - The MJFLA loan committee will review your application and you will be notified of approval or denial.
STEP 6 - Upon approval, you will be contacted to sign the loan documents. You will sign documents including a promissory note and an ACH authorization/payment schedule, your guarantor(s) will sign a guarantee document, and then the loan will be disbursed.
How long does the process take?
Once we have received your application, guarantor application(s) and all requested supplemental documents, and you have spoken with an MJFLA loan coordinator, it takes 1-3 business days to find out if your loan is approved. Then you will be contacted and the loan documents will be sent to you and your guarantor(s) for signatures. Then the loan will be disbursed.
How does repayment work?
The monthly payment amount differs for each loan, depending on the amount of the loan and how much the borrower can afford to pay. (Some loan programs have minimum monthly payment amounts.) Therefore, the length of time to repay each loan differs. We will work with you to establish a monthly payment amount that you can afford. All MJFLA loans are repaid with an automatic payment (ACH) from the borrower's bank account.
Do I need a bank account?
If you do not have a bank account, please contact MJFLA to discuss options.
When do I start making payments?
You will begin making payments approximately 30 days after receiving the loan.
Is my information kept confidential?
The MJFLA loan coordinator will have access to your name and other identifying information. All information received by MJFLA from applicants, guarantors, employers, donors, etc. is strictly confidential and is not shared with third parties. MJFLA makes a reasonable effort to keep all information secure, but cannot be held responsible for loss of any information voluntarily provided to MJFLA in the application process, whether online, via telephone, mail, email, chat, etc., or in person.
How do Student Loans differ from Personal Loans?
MJFLA Educational loans are a maximum of $5,000 per student, per year. Renewals must be applied for and approved each year. These loans are intended for students enrolled in full-time post-secondary study at an accredited, non-profit institution. The student (and at least one guarantor) must be Wisconsin residents, but students may attend schools anywhere in the U.S. Student loan repayment begins with payments of $100 per month during school and increases to a maximum of $300 per month.
Student loans are typically approved each summer, but students may apply at any time throughout the year. MJFLA student loans are not federally backed or controlled.
If you are interested in a student loan be sure to complete the student loan and student loan guarantor applications (not the personal loan applications).
MJFLA is non-sectarian, so why is 'Jewish' in the name?
MJFLA makes loans to people of all faiths. The word "Jewish" is included our name out of respect for the long history of Jewish people lending money to others without charging interest. Jewish and Hebrew Free Loans in the U.S. were started over 100 years ago when Jews could not get a loan from a bank. Today, we continue to fulfill the mandate: “If you lend money to My people, do not act toward them as a creditor; you shall not charge them interest.” – Exodus 22:24
For more information on the history of interest-free lending visit these sites:
NYC Hebrew Free Loan Society: http://hfls.org/about/our-history/
What else do I need to know?
1. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age, Wisconsin residents for at least one year prior to the application date and must be current residents of Southeastern Wisconsin.
2. Current MJFLA clients or guarantors may not apply for another MJFLA loan or be a guarantor of another loan until the current loan is paid in full (except student loans).
3. Members of the active military and professionals working in the community, including but not limited to: clergy, other service agency staff, etc. may not be guarantors. These individuals tend to have high visibility in the community and are often requested to be guarantors of loans. This rule exists for their benefit and protection. (An exception is made for family members who fall into this category.)
4. A married couple is considered to be one guarantor.
5. An applicant's spouse or significant other is considered a co-maker on the loan and cannot be a guarantor.
6. Applicant's spouses and guarantor's spouses are required to sign the loan documents.
7. The applicant and guarantor(s) and their spouses will each have a credit report performed via CBC. MJFLA now runs only "soft pull" credit reports. Click here for more information.
8. A copy of a valid drivers license or other identification must be provided by the applicant and guarantor(s) upon request.
9. The guarantee document states that in the event of a default, the guarantors are liable for the loan, "jointly and severally." MJFLA would expect the guarantors on the note to share equally in the responsibility of repayment of the loan, however, each guarantor is liable for the full amount, and, as such, could be called upon to repay the total balance in full if a default occurs.
10. MJFLA reserves the right to contact any and all guarantors at any time as deemed necessary.
11. Borrowers who successfully make all payments in a timely fashion will be eligible to apply for future loans from MJFLA.