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Scholarship program deadline approaches, provides vital assistance to Jewish students in need

In today’s tough economic times, we know that every dollar toward a higher education counts. That’s why we are committed to helping a number of our community’s Jewish students pursue higher learning opportunities with less financial strain through Central Scholarship & Loan Referral Service. CSLRS is a needs-based scholarship program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh administered by JF&CS, which coordinates the efforts of a group of organizations, agencies and scholarship endowment funds to provide scholarships to local Jewish students enrolled in accredited institutions of higher education.

Last year, CSLRS awarded approximately $400,000 in scholarships to more than 200 area Jewish students, and the deadline is quickly approaching for students wishing to apply to CSLRS for the 2013-2014 school year. Online applications are available at www.centralscholarship.org and are due by Monday, February 11. First-time applicants must be interviewed by CSLRS staff.

As many students and their families know all too well, funding for higher education can be difficult to come by. A scholarship, no matter the amount, can make all the difference for a young adult pursuing higher education – especially for students like Jennifer*.

A junior biology major at a local university, Jennifer, a young Jewish undergraduate, was just beginning the application process to attend medical school following graduation.

At the beginning of her college career, Jennifer’s parents had been able to comfortably finance her education costs. But in the middle of her junior year, her father was suddenly laid off when his company downsized, and her parent’s contribution to her college costs decreased significantly.

Though her parents could still contribute a portion, they needed to find a way to supplement the cost. Through a friend at her synagogue, Jennifer’s mother heard about the Central Scholarship & Loan Referral Service scholarship program, a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, administered by JF&CS, and encouraged Jennifer to apply.

Jennifer was eligible, and was awarded several academic and community scholarships to help her continue her education. Her university’s financial aid office helped her find additional grant and loan opportunities to ensure she could continue her studies.

Without the scholarship funds awarded to her by CSLRS, Jennifer would have had to finance the majority of the cost of her education through loans, leaving her with a large amount of debt once she graduated.

Jennifer finished her undergraduate degree at the top of her class and is now attending medical school. She continues to receive financial support through CSLRS and is thankful to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and JF&CS for helping her continue her education.

CSLRS represents an outstanding example of how the Pittsburgh region’s Jewish community has come together to create opportunities for our children’s futures. Through CSLRS, students have access to numerous community scholarships, which provide students like Jennifer the means to pursue and continue higher education.

Any Jewish high school senior or students enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate or technical school with demonstrated financial need and living in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties can apply and are encouraged to visit the CSLRS website to learn more and access the online application before the February 11th deadline.

For questions or additional information about eligibility requirements, please visit www.centralscholarship.org or contact Alayne Lowenberger, JF&CS scholarship program director, at 412-422-7200.

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.