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 are able to solve their own financial situation 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 the Greater Milwaukee area, and must have cosigners to guarantee the loan. For loans of $500 or less, one cosigner is required, and for larger loans up to the maximum of $3,600, two cosigners are required.
How much can I borrow?
MJFLA Personal Loans are offered at a maximum of $500 with one cosigner, and from $500 to $3,600 with two cosigners.
Do I have to live in the Greater Milwaukee area?
Yes, MJFLA serves residents of the Greater Milwaukee area. Contact MJFLA if you are unsure if you live within our service area.
Why are cosigners 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 cosigners are legally responsible to repay the loan. Less than 4% of all MJFLA loans have required any payment from a cosigner.
What are the cosigner requirements?
Cosigners must be Wisconsin residents, must be working so they have income from employment, and must have a good credit history. A qualified cosigner is a person who is willing and financially able to repay the loan in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan.
What if I don't have any income or I don't have qualified cosigners?
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 cosigners 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 cosigners to submit cosigner applications.
STEP 4 - Speak with the 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 schedule an appointment. At your appointment, you will sign documents including a promissory note and your payment schedule. Your cosigners will sign a guarantee document, and then the loan will be disbursed.
How long does the process take?
Once we have received your application, cosigner application(s) and supplemental documents, and you have spoken with the MJFLA loan coordinator, it takes 1-3 days to find out if your loan is approved. Then a mutually acceptable date will be set to meet with you and your cosigners to sign documents and disburse the loan.
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. Therefore, the length of time to repay each loan differs as well. We will work with you to establish a monthly payment amount that you can afford. All MJFLA loans are repaid with an automatic payment from a 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 is the only person who will have access to your name and other private information. All information received by MJFLA is strictly confidential. 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 or in person.
How do Student Loans differ from Personal Loans?
Student2Student Fund loans and MJFLA Educational loans have a maximum of $5,000 per loan. Students may have multiple loans at one time. These loans are intended for students enrolled in full-time post-secondary study at an accredited, non-profit institution. The students (and cosigners) 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. Student loans are typically approved each summer, but students may apply 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 application and student loan cosigner application.
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 the Greater Milwaukee area.
2. Current MJFLA clients or cosigners may not apply for another MJFLA loan or be a cosigner to 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 cosigners. These individuals tend to have high visibility in the community and are often requested to be cosigners of loans. This rule exists for their benefit and protection.
4. A married couple is considered to be one cosigner.
5. An applicant's spouse is considered a co-maker on the loan and cannot be a cosigner.
6. The applicant and cosigners will each have a credit report performed by Credco.
7. A copy of a valid drivers license or other identification must be provided by the applicant and cosigners.
8. The guarantee document states that in the event of a default, the cosigners are liable for the loan, "jointly and severally". MJFLA would expect the cosigners on the note to share equally in the responsibility of repayment of the loan, however, each cosigner is liable for the full amount, and, as such, could be called upon to repay the total balance in full if a default occurs.
9. MJFLA reserves the right to contact any and all cosigners at any time as deemed necessary.
10. Borrowers who successfully make all payments in a timely fashion will be eligible to apply for future loans from MJFLA.