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 nearly 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. 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 2020 Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Program application opens on September 15, 2020 and the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern on December 1, 2020. Decisions will be announced by the end of February 2021.

Candidates must submit a complete application online, including a questionnaire, personal essay, current resume, letter of reference, proof of employment, and summary of educational indebtedness.

I have a graduate assistantship. 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. We encourage alumni to apply once they have obtained a full-time position outside of the university.

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 America and abroad.

Why should I apply?

For those selected for this highly competitive program, Wharton will send up to $20,000 per year to the recipients’ lenders to pay down their loans. That means you’ll be able to work at that exciting nonprofit 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.

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

Am I eligible for funding?

If you are a graduate of the MBA or EMBA programs, you’re on the right track.

Applicants should be graduates from the class of 2016 or later, who are working a full-time position in the public or nonprofit sectors.

That includes any job in local, state or national government; any tax-exempt non-profit organization in the nation; a foreign government or non-profit organization; or some international non-profit 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.

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.

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.

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 began. Historically, we have funded between 40 and 60 percent of applicants.