John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund

Are you a Wharton MBA alum working in social impact? Discover how the Loan Forgiveness program can support your journey to change the world.

Wharton alumni are using their skills and knowledge—in finance, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, and more—for social impact. And sometimes, making the choice to pursue a social impact career has significant financial implications.

That’s where the Bendheim Loan Forgiveness program comes in.

Created in 2005 by John Bendheim, W’40, and his son Tom, WG/Lauder’90, and managed by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the loan forgiveness fund has awarded more than $2 million to over 100 different alumni.

The Bendheim Fellows are just a sample of our alumni who are impact investors, social entrepreneurs, corporate and nonprofit leaders, and philanthropists.

“Wharton graduates have an enormous amount to offer the not for profit and public service sectors. Our goal is to encourage and support our MBAs’ choice to work in careers where they can have significant social impact.”

—Tom Bendheim WG’90 G’90

If selected for this competitive program, you can earn up to $20,000 per year to pay down your student loans.

Key Information
  • You must be a recent graduate (this resource is available within the first five years of graduation.)
  • You are employed with a registered nonprofit or in a public-sector role. Applications from alumni working at for-profit impact organizations will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • You may apply more than once over the five year period—many alumni receive the award multiple years.
  • Awards are based on a combination of social impact activity, career goals, and salary level/financial need.
  • Please note, this award may be taxable. We advise you to consult your tax advisor should you receive funding.

What is the Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund?

The Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund is a program designed to help selected Wharton MBA graduates who are working in the nonprofit and public sectors, and some social impact companies. The fund specifically helps pay down student loans so recent graduates can pursue social impact careers.

When is the application deadline? What do I need?

The 2021 Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Program application opens on September 15, 2021 and the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern on December 5, 2021. Decisions will be announced by the end of February 2022.

The required online application includes a questionnaire, personal essay, current resume, letter of reference, proof of employment, and summary of educational indebtedness.

I have a graduate assistantship OR A FULL-TIME INTERNSHIP. Does that count as an eligible job?

Jobs that are technically a continuation of a professional degree (such as a G.A. position toward an advanced degree) do not count toward this program. Internships are also not eligible. We encourage alumni to apply once they have obtained a permanent full-time position.

Please note: University of Pennsylvania employees are not eligible for the award.

What is the profile of awardees?

The Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund winners are diverse, representing Wharton’s vast MBA alumni network.

Successful applicants have a strong focus on social impact work and are able to demonstrate that confidently in the grant application.

Previous winners have included executives at large national foundations, high school teachers and school administrators, financial analysts for state education departments, and government officials both in the U.S. and around the globe.

Why should I apply?

For those selected for this highly competitive program, Wharton will remit up to $20,000 per year to the recipients’ lenders to pay down the principle balance of their loans. That means you’ll be able to work at that exciting nonprofit or social impact job without worrying about where you’ll find the money to tackle student loan debt.

You must reapply each year and are eligible for up to five years of funding from the year you graduate.

Please note, this award may be taxable, so awardees are advised to consult their tax advisors.

Am I eligible for funding?

This program is for graduates of the MBA or EMBA programs.

Applicants should be graduates from the class of 2017 or later, who are working a full-time position in impact. That includes any job in local, state, or national government; any tax-exempt nonprofit organization in the U.S.; a foreign government or nonprofit organization; or some international nonprofit organizations. Employment with a for-profit social enterprise will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and eligibility will depend on demonstrating that the enterprise has a significant and intentional commitment to social impact. In other words, social impact must be core to the social enterprise’s mission and purpose; social impact positions in non-social impact enterprises are not eligible.

Financial need is also an important factor. The selection committee will review your Wharton educational debt and current salary; the funds apply to loans taken out during your Wharton MBA studies, but those with loan deferments are not eligible.* Also, while we can apply loan forgiveness to loan holders (such as CommonBond, SoFi, etc.) we cannot offer loan forgiveness for loans from family, friends, or individuals.

To remain eligible for the loan forgiveness award, selected awardees are expected to work at their social impact organization for at least one year. If you are planning to change your job during the Bendheim Loan Forgiveness application and selection process, you should wait to re-apply next year.

*This does not include federal loan flexibilities for the COVID-19 emergency.

How often can I apply?

There is no limit to the number of times alumni may be chosen as recipients during the first five years following graduation. We encourage applicants to apply each year. Past awardees are not guaranteed to receive the award again. Not being selected in past years does not prevent you from receiving the award in future years.

What is the likelihood I will be funded?

The number and size of awards granted each year depends on the funds available, though over $2 million has been distributed since the program’s inauguration. Historically, we have awarded some level of funding to between 40% and 60% of applicants each year.