How does the Cincinnati Jewish Interest Free Loan (CJIFL) program work?
CJIFL loans money, interest-free, from an endowment fund at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. As the loans are repaid, those payments are recycled to provide more loans. CJIFL interest-free loans enable borrowers to save money:  they are able to resolve their own financial situations without interest costs and additional bank fees. Also, as they repay their loans, CJIFL clients are actually "paying it forward" to help others.

What is needed to get a CJIFL?
In order to get a CJIFL loan, you must be Jewish or reside in a Jewish household, be at least 18 years old, have sufficient income to repay the loan (in addition to your other monthly bills), be a resident of Greater Cincinnati or nearby communities (12-month residency required), and must have people willing to guarantee the loan (guarantors).

How much can I borrow?
CJIFL Personal Loans or business loans are offered at a maximum of $10,000. For CJIFL loans of $2,500- $5,000 one guarantor is required, and for larger loans up to the maximum of $10,000, two guarantors are required.

Do I have to live in Cincinnati?
Yes, the CJIFL program serves residents of Greater Cincinnati or nearby communities. A minimum of 12-month residency is required and you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Contact CJIFL if you are unsure if you live within our service area.

Why are guarantors required?
CJIFL 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. The Internal Revenue Code treats cancelled or uncollectible loans as amounts includible in the income of the obligor(s) of the loan. JFC will report all such loans to the Internal Revenue Service in the manner required under IRS guidance.

What are the guarantor requirements?
Co-signers (who are also called “guarantors”) must demonstrate financial means and ability to repay the full loan amount in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan. The guarantor must have a good credit history (at least 700 on a Beacon Credit score).  They must be at least 21 years of age.  

What if I don't have any income or I don't have qualified guarantors?
CJIFL 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 the CJIFL loan coordinator.
STEP 5 - The CJIFL Endowment 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 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 supplemental documents, and you have spoken with the CJIFL loan coordinator, we make every effort to review these documents quickly. However, it may take five to seven days to find out if your loan is approved. Then you will be contacted and a date will be set to sign documents and disburse the loan.

How does repayment work?
In the absence of extraordinary conditions, CJIFL loans of $5,000 or less are repayable in monthly installments of $139 (maximum repayment term of 36 months). CJIFL loans of more than $5,000 are repayable in monthly installments of between $139-$278 (maximum repayment term of no more than 36 months). All CJIFL 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 CJIFL 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 CJIFL loan coordinator is the only person who will have access to your name and other identifying information. All information received by CJIFL is strictly confidential. CJIFL makes a reasonable effort to keep all information secure, but cannot be held responsible for loss of any information voluntarily provided to CJIFL in the application process, whether online, via telephone, via mail, or in person.

Why can you only apply for CJIFL if you are Jewish? 
These loans come from a fund that was established at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati for helping Jewish residents in our community. The funds have a restricted purpose. Federal and State Laws prohibit lenders from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender orientation, marital status or age; because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program; or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act (such as the Truth in Lending Act). Because we are a Jewish organization, we are exempt from the portion of these laws relating to religion; however, all other of the listed prohibitions apply.  

What else do I need to know?

  1. Loans shall not be made to reduce or eliminate credit card or other personal debt obligations.
  2. Current CJIFL clients or guarantors may not apply for another CJIFL loan or be a guarantor of another loan until the current loan is paid in full (except student loans).
  3. You or your guarantors may not be considering bankruptcy.
  4. A guarantor may not be a professional working in the Jewish community, i.e. rabbis, cantors, Jewish agency executives and staff and may not be in active military service.  
  5. A married couple is considered one guarantor.
  6. An applicant's spouse cannot be a guarantor.  
  7. A copy of a valid drivers license or other identification must be provided by the applicant and guarantor(s) upon request.
  8. The guarantee document states that in the event of a default, the guarantors are liable for the loan, "jointly and severally." CJIFL 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.
  9. CJIFL reserves the right to contact any and all guarantors 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 CJIFL.


Jim Friedman
Director of Planned Giving and Endowment
513-985-1524  |

Debra Stenbuch
Director of Planned Giving and Endowment / CYJL
513.985.1593  |