Do I need to provide identification?

Yes, if you are approved for a loan, we will need to make a copy of your photo ID.


What documents must I submit with the application?

All supporting documents are listed on the first page of each application, and vary by loan type.


How do I get an application?

Please complete our pre-application form for the type of loan you are seeking to receive (standard, education, business). Or, you may call the office to go over our pre-qualifications over the phone at 216-378-9042. After we receive the pre-application, we will be in touch with further instructions.


Do my grades need to be above a 3.0 to qualify for an education loan?

No; HFLA of Northeast Ohio makes education loans based on financial need rather than merit.


Can my spouse/partner guarantee my loan?

No, your spouse/partner cannot guarantee your loan. Spouses must apply as co-applicants, though. Our loans require a guarantor that is completely separate from the financial situation, meaning they must reside in a separate household and have their own income.

Qualified guarantors are people living in Northeast Ohio, with a verifiable income and the ability to make a payment if the borrower could not do so, who live in a separate household from the loan applicant(s).


Why do I need a guarantor/cosigner?

HFLA of Northeast Ohio is a nonprofit organization. We do not charge interest or make money off of our loans, and we rely heavily on our loans being repaid so that we can make new loans to people in need.

Guarantors and cosigners are our one form of “backup” in the unlikely event that a borrower defaults on a loan. We have had several guarantors/cosigners who have paid off loans because the person that they guaranteed the loan for/cosigned the loan for fell ill, experienced extreme financial setbacks, or passed away. HFLA is grateful for our guarantors and cosigners, who have allowed us to exist for over 100 years.


What is the difference between a cosigner and a guarantor?

Our education loans require one cosigner. Cosigners share a joint responsibility to the debt, and we can consider the cosigner’s income if the student does not have any. Cosigners may live in the same household as the applicant (ex: mom can cosign for a child; a spouse/partner—with income—can cosign for their spouse/partner).

Our standard loans require a guarantor or guarantors—loan requests under $5,000 require one guarantor and requests over $5,000 up to our maximum of $10,000 require two guarantors. Guarantors must live in a separate household and must have income and the ability to repay the debt, in the event that the applicant defaults on the loan.

We make business loans directly to the business. Any owner who owns 20% or more of that business will sign a personal guaranty and will still be responsible for that debt, even if the business ceases to exist.


What credit score do I need to have to be approved for a loan?

Credit is just one factor in our loan qualification process. We do not have a specific score that we are looking for—rather, our staff looks at our applicants’ credit to verify their debt obligations and to see what their repayment history has been in the past. Generally, we look to see that our applicants make an effort to pay their credit obligations on time. If we have concerns or questions about things on your credit report, we will contact you for more information.


What is the minimum income level to qualify for a loan with HFLA? Is there a maximum income level?

HFLA of Northeast Ohio looks at each application as a unique application. Every person/family has different income, and also has different expenses. Our programmatic staff must be able to verify your income and to see that you have the ability to pay your regular monthly expenses in addition to a loan payment to us. If you have concerns about your income eligibility, please call the office at 216-378-9042 or email us at team@interestfree.org.


What does it mean when you say that your loans are for people who "cannot access traditional financing"? How do I know if I do or do not qualify?

When we say that HFLA of Northeast Ohio’s loans are designed for people who are unable to access traditional financing, we mean that a person may have been denied a loan through their bank or credit union. If you are unsure contact our program staff to see if you qualify. If we receive an application that looks like a person may be eligible for traditional financing, we may require you to apply with your financial institution first. Our funds are limited and must be used for those who truly cannot access other means of financing.