Pollak Student Loan FAQ

Hebrew Free Loan is a 125-year-old, San Francisco-based nonprofit organization. The Pollak Community Loan Program offers interest-free student loans to help qualified students from low and moderate income homes in Northern California attend college, university, or vocational school.

Do I need to be Jewish to apply for a loan?

No, you don’t need to be Jewish to apply for a student loan through the Pollak Community Student Loan Program. You must be referred by an advisor or other staff at a college success program or other organization that partners with Hebrew Free Loan. You must also have financial need and be a permanent resident of Northern California.  

How do I get referred for a loan?

Ask your advisor or other staff at a Hebrew Free loan partner program to refer you. If you’re not sure whether you’re connected to a partner program, check here or contact Terry Lowe to find out. 

What programs partner with Hebrew Free Loan for these loans?

You can see a list of our current partners here. 

Am I eligible to apply if I'm undocumented or don't have citizenship or a green card?

Yes, loans are based on your need and your ability to repay the loan, not your immigration status. Undocumented students and non-citizens are welcome to apply. 

How much can I borrow?

Undergraduate students are eligible for up to $6,000 a year, for up to five years, based on how much they need. Graduate students are eligible for up to $10,000 a year. You’re welcome to borrow less, if you don’t need the full amount.

What can I use the loan for?

Loans may be used for tuition or any reasonable living expenses, including computers, transportation, summer housing costs, etc. In some cases, loans may be used to pay a past due balance from a previous school term. 

What does it mean that the loan is interest-free?

The amount you borrow is the exact amount you repay. We will never charge you any interest or additional loan fees.  

How does repayment work?

Students start paying back the loan while they’re in school ($75-100 per month). This reduces the amount owed by the time they graduate. Loan payments increase four months after graduation. The monthly payment after graduation depends on the total amount borrowed.

What are guarantors, and why do I need them?

A guarantor is someone with a reliable source of income who is willing to cover a student’s loan payments if the student is unable to do so. While most students repay their own loans, guarantors step in to help if a student can’t cover the payments. Guarantors ensure that loans are repaid, so that we have enough funds to offer loans to other students in need. We require one or two guarantors on every loan.  

Who can be a guarantor?

Guarantors must have a reliable source of income and be willing and able to make payments on a loan if needed. May be a parent, other relative, or family friend. At least one guarantor on each loan must live within the state of California. If someone’s only income is disability or social security, they are not usually eligible to be a guarantor, but exceptions may sometimes be made.  

What is involved for my guarantors? Will guaranteeing a loan affect their credit?

We are not a credit reporting agency, so guaranteeing a loan should not affect anyone’s credit, unless the loan goes into default. We rarely request a guarantor’s credit report. Guarantors fill out a short information form and sign the borrower’s promissory note (the legal loan agreement).

May I download a copy of the guarantor information form?

To avoid confusion, guarantor forms are provided to loan applicants during the loan interview, which takes place over Zoom. Loan applicants then give the form to their guarantors.

What’s your repayment rate?

Over 99.75% of loan recipients repay their loans.

Can’t find an answer to your question? Please contact Shari Tishman, Loan Officer & Program Manager, by email or phone: (628) 236-3349.