Why must I come to a loan committee?

All final loan decisions are made by HFLA of Northeast Ohio’s loan committees. These decisions are based on your financials, but also off of you and your story. We want to meet our borrowers and understand their situations! We meet twice a month and require our applicants to come in for a brief (15-20 minute) interview. If you are far out of our service area or have difficulty with transportation, our programmatic staff will make alternate arrangements with you.


How long does it take to process an application?

It typically takes 5-10 business days to process a complete application. However, this process may take longer if an application is turned in without complete information or supporting documentation. Due to the overwhelming need for support in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, application volume has increased dramatically and processing times have been extended to reflect that increase.

Business loan requests do require much more paperwork, and it does take us a bit longer to review these loan packets! We will do our best to keep you informed throughout the review process so that you know where you stand.


Should I bring my application to your office?

We hate to see people make unnecessary trips! If you qualify to apply, you can fax your application and supporting documents to us at 216-378-9007, scan it to team@interestfree.org, or mail it to us at 23300 Chagrin Blvd. Suite 204, Beachwood, OH 44122.

If you live or work close by, you may bring your application in, but please call us first at 216-378-9042 because we are a small office and want to be sure that someone is here to receive your paperwork.


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 at least one guarantor or 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.