How Do I Qualify?

Loan Eligibility Criteria

The national network of local Ways to Work loan offices provides small loans to qualified low-income applicants in accordance with the national office’s minimum loan eligibility criteria. Local loan offices, and as approved by the national office, may modify the length of employment criterion or require qualified applicants to meet additional loan eligibility criteria.

The minimum loan eligibility criteria for applicants are:

  • Continuous employment for at least six months OR
  • Enrolled in a post high school educational program
  • Involved parent(s) of dependent child(ren), and
  • Have exhausted conventional loan resources, and
  • Have disposable income sufficient to make repayment (for no more than a 30 month term and at an interest rate at no greater than 8%) , and
  • Have a household income no greater than 80% of the area’s median income, and
  • Reside in geographic service area.

The vast majority of the Ways to Work loan eligibility criteria were established in 1984 when Minnesota’s McKnight Foundation developed the Family Loan Program. In 1996, McKnight partnered with the Alliance for Children and Families (then Family Service America) to expand the program nationally. In 1998, the Family Loan Program changed its name to Ways to Work and was incorporated as a nonprofit organization.

The remarkably successful experience of both Ways to Work and its predecessor, The Family Loan Program, is contributable, in large part, to administering the loan program with time-tested core loan eligibility criteria designed to support loan participants’ success, including strong repayment rates.

To apply for a loan, contact the nearest local office directly.
The national office does not supply applications or work with clients directly.

If you cannot find the information that you need, please contact Joslyn Ruffin toll free at (866) 252-7171 or by email at

Go to the Loan Office Directory.