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 loan applicants need a guarantor/cosigner?

As a nonprofit lender, HFLA does not make money by charging interest or other fees on our loans. We rely on our loans being repaid so that we can continue lending to those who need.

Guarantors and cosigners are the one form of “backup” in the unlikely event that a borrower defaults on a loan. HFLA is grateful for our guarantors and cosigners, who have ensured loan repayment if/when something prohibits the borrower from completing payment on their loan.

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.

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. A potential borrower is required to submit a monthly budget. From there, our programmatic staff are able to verify the applicant's income and to see that the applicant has the ability to afford regular monthly payments in addition to their other monthly expenses. If you have concerns about income eligibility, please call the office at 216-378-9042 or email us at

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.