The Jonas Weil Entrepreneur Fellowship is a loan forgiveness program to assist students who pursue entrepreneurial ventures. It has been established by a generous endowment gift from a distinguished alumnus and entrepreneur, Jonas Weil MBA ’59. Its purpose is to assist Johnson students who have substantial educational debt to pursue entrepreneurial careers that might otherwise need to be delayed. It provides eligible graduates with funding to help cover their regular student loan payments for up to a maximum repayment of $50,000 over 5 years.
Eligibility for initial awards is limited to graduating Johnson students who are willing to join small emerging businesses as described below. Applicants must be in a student loan repayment status. Applicants must demonstrate that they are taking a risk by receiving stock in lieu of salary, i.e., the substitution of equity for direct compensation. Preference is given to students with prior experience in the business world and who have an appreciation for the growing importance of global initiatives. The first graduating class eligible for these awards was the class of 1995.
Successful applicants are expected to be involved in an entrepreneurial venture with the following characteristics:
- Starting his or her own business
- Participating in a startup in which he/she obtains founder’s stock as the majority of their initial compensation
- The startup and / or the applicant is or has been an active participant in Johnson entrepreneurship courses (such as NBA 5640) and programs (Johnson Summer Startup Accelerator, eLab / NBA 6230 and NBA 6330)
- The startup is launching and growing its own business model, as opposed to being an investment vehicle or holding company
- This venture provides the principal form of employment and source of income for the applicant
Eligibility for renewal of awards is limited to award recipients who have demonstrated their continuing involvement in entrepreneurial ventures. Renewal of awards will be at the discretion of the Johnson School.
The program will cover federal, institutional and private loans processed through the Johnson School’s financial aid office and used to cover the student’s education at Johnson. The program does not cover private loans from friends, family or credit card payments, even if they were used to help cover educational expenses.
Repayment of Student Loans
Graduating students approved to participate in the loan forgiveness program will be issued a check for their student loan payments as early in the calendar year of the award as possible.
The graduate will be responsible for making all student loan repayments and complying will all processing requirements imposed by lenders and collection entities. Graduates whose student loans are not in good standing at the time of their initial application the program cannot be considered. Failure to remain in good standing in meeting repayment obligations will result in termination of eligibility for the loan forgiveness program.
Annual loan repayment expenses will be calculated assuming that the graduate takes advantage of all opportunities for deferment and adopts a repayment plan based on no less than a ten-year schedule.
Obligations to Repay Grants or Support the Program
A financial award under this program is a grant from Johnson for the specific purpose described. Should the participant leave qualifying employment during the year for which an award is made, the participant must repay to Johnson a portion of the award. The Director of Financial Aid will work out a precise repayment schedule.
The donor’s hope and intent was that recipients of awards from this program should support the further funding of this Fellowship through their own charitable gifts back to the Jonas Weil Entrepreneur Fellowship fund, when and if their future financial circumstances permit such donations.
Documentation of Employment
The advisory committee should review applications and approve awards, based on review of documentation from the applicant to establish their compliance with program eligibility requirements laid out in section II, above. Documentation to be requested of applicants for review by the committee would typically include, but would not be limited to, the following:
- Business plan
- Certificate of formation of the business
- Tax identification number of the business
- Corporate registration documents (if any)
- Statements from the President of the business and/or Corporate Counsel addressing the nature of employment and the form of compensation
- Evidence of the holding of shares in the business
- Personal federal income tax returns of the applicant
Participants must submit an annual report to the Johnson School describing the state of their entrepreneurial venture and their involvement in it, including metrics on startup growth that include (but are not limited to) statistics such as jobs created, capital raised, and revenue earned, whether or not they intend to reapply for a renewal award. If applying for a renewal award, this report can be a part of the reapplication.
Program participants should be aware that the IRS might consider amounts received under the program taxable income. The Johnson School is not in a position to give individual advice on these matters; participants may want to seek their own professional advice.