Ehlers Application

The cost of a college education continues to rise, and, for some, those costs can hinder their goal of earning a degree. Those who do pursue post-secondary education quickly discover the costs associated with furthering their education result in taking out loans at a high rate of interest. In an effort to help address those financial realities a program was established in Redwood Falls by a benefactor named Martin Ehlers. The program provides interest-free funds for students living in Redwood County or attending school in Redwood County. - click here to complete the application and return to the RADC by May 6, 2024.

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These Interest-Free Loans Help Redwood County Students Pursue Secondary Education

Students living or attending school in Redwood County who want to pursue higher education have an incredible opportunity to apply for an interest-free loan from The Martin & Winifred Ehlers Student Loan Fund, a division of the Redwood Area Communities Foundation.

History of The Martin & Winifred Ehlers Student Loan Fund

Martin Ehlers moved to Redwood Falls in 1937 and started the Ehlers Department Store the following year in 1938 with the motto “It can be done” as his driving force.  Eventually, Martin would own 21 department stores in 21 different towns, a business he built without any financial assistance. Martin’s success was built through hard work and dedication, but he acknowledged that education plays a key role in the complete development of the student.

Helping students pursue secondary education – whether it is vocational, private, or public college – has always been of great importance to Martin and Winifred Ehlers, as is investing in the future.

“We will always need good mechanics and plumbers just as we will always need professional people,” said Martin.  “It does not matter what major you choose.  However, it does matter if you have chosen to better yourself through higher education.”

The Ehlers generously offer interest-free student loans to qualified students.  “By helping the youth of our community to better themselves through education, we are assuring the betterment of our community for the future,” said Martin.  

Nathan Stephens: First Recipient of the Ehlers Student Loan

Nathan Stephens received the first Ehlers Student Loan in 1994.  Nathan was working for Martin Ehlers, helping to care for him while he was recovering from hip replacement surgery.  As Nathan explained, “Martin was so grateful for my help that he wanted to assist me with my college expenses.  I was going to school at Gustavus Adolphus College for Pre-Med and he wanted to help me achieve my goals.  Thus, he started the Ehlers Student Loan Fund, so that when I was able to repay the loan, he would be able to help other kids with their educations as well.”

“The high cost of college expenses, and my family not having a lot of extra money to put towards my schooling, meant the Ehlers Student Loan was very instrumental in my ability to continue my higher education.  It was also very helpful to have a loan without high interest rates, so that I was able to pay down my college loan debt quickly.  I was then able to use those additional funds to begin my career and family,” said Nathan.

One of the major benefits of the Ehlers Student Loan is that it has a low or no-interest rate so that students can repay the loan much quicker than a traditional college loan. As Nathan put it, “Getting out of debt is the first step towards having a successful life and career. There really are no drawbacks with the Ehlers Student Loan.  I am so very thankful for the opportunity.”

How the Ehlers Student Loan Fund Application Process Works

The Ehlers Student Loan Fund Board of Directors looks very carefully at each applicant: their academic ability, leadership in school, civic and other extracurricular activities, their need for the funds, and their moral character,  and use these factors to decide who is awarded student loans.  The paying back of the loan is of vital importance since when a loan is paid back it enables future students in the area to have the same opportunity to obtain an interest-free loan for their education. Nathan, who received a loan, said that it is “a very quick, easy loan application process. The Board that handles the loan is very helpful and makes this very simple for students to receive assistance.”

Remember the words of Martin Ehlers, “It can be done!”