The Gift of Debt-Free Education

Meaghan always knew she wanted a career helping people. Her early professional experience included living at Camphill Village, where she helped adults with developmental disabilities. On over 600 acres in beautiful upstate New York, she and other residents worked together as equals in extended families in homes throughout the Village. There they celebrated and honored the uniqueness, dignity and spiritual integrity of each individual.

From there she moved to Washington, DC and led volunteer and programing efforts for a community theater. As part of the theatre’s outreach efforts, free tickets to matinee productions were given to area high school students, many from at-risk homes. Meaghan recalls how excited students were to attend a show and noted this was the first-ever performance for many. As Meaghan’s desire to grow within a social service-oriented career, so did the need for her to seek an MSW.

"When I decided to go back to graduate school for a Master's degree in Social Work, one of my top priorities was to avoid going into debt.  A combination of personal savings, AmeriCorps grant money, help from family members, a student job and  scholarships had gotten me most of the way through the program, but I was coming up just a little short.”

Recent research from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority shows that an estimated 45% of Americans between 18 and 34 have student loan debt.  Furthermore, it found that the debt took a "heavy toll on their financial lives, [with] 53% of the student-loan holders saying they would make a change if they could go through the process of taking out student loans again."

Meaghan had been very diligent in managing her finances while attending classes and simultaneously holding a part-time job, but it was still not enough. That's where the Jewish Free Loan program stepped in. 

Jewish Free Loan of Greater Portland is a service provided by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland to offer interest-free loans to qualified community members to help with life’s “ups and downs.” Not accruing interest was Meaghan’s top priority. With the support from Federation, she was able to cover the remaining cost of school.  

With so many students facing crippling debt from high-interest rates on school loans, Meaghan is grateful to have benefited from the program.  She says that it has given her the “freedom in finding what is the best fit for me – and it feels amazing!

Plus she knows that the money she repays will help make another loan possible.  Meaghan earned her MSW in June 2016 from Portland State University and can now pursue her dream career to help others. 

Because of you

We are able to help students like Meaghan get a debt-free education, so they can go out and do good in the world.

Find out how to apply for Jewish Free Loan or donate to keep others debt-free  - learn more.


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