The mission of the Michigan Employment Loan Fund is to reduce or eliminate barriers to employment through low-interest loans.

Financial loans can be used to buy employment-related equipment and training to use the equipment.  Potential borrowers represent those interested in self-employment, those needing assistive devices to maintain, increase, or enhance employment, and those who require equipment to engage in telecommuting employment arrangements with an employer.


Loan Facts:

Loans up to $20,000

Interest rate is fixed for the term of the loan

Loan terms can range up to 5 years depending on the business equipment purchased and the borrower’s ability to pay

Monthly payments are paid to our credit union partner, Option 1 Credit Union.



Michigan residents with all disabilities, including seniors with age-related functional limitations, are eligible. You must be at least 18 and/or your own guardian.

Loans must be used to buy business equipment and related education/training to use the equipment. The equipment must be needed for home-based employment as an employee or business owner on a full or part-time basis.


Frequently Asked Questions for the MI Employment Loan Fund
If you have a question that is not answered below, email your question to the Loan Fund Coordinator. henige [at]

Who can apply for a low interest loan?
Michigan residents with disabilities of all types — including seniors with age-related hearing, vision, mobility and cognitive limitations. We also consider applications from employers – as long as the item is purchased for – and owned by — a person with a disability. Applicants also must show that they plan to use the equipment to work from home or other approved telework location.

What can I buy with my loan?
Loans can be used to purchase any type of equipment, and items related to the equipment, needed by entrepreneurs and employees with disabilities to work effectively from home. Examples include computers, sewing machines, kitchen appliances, fax machines, copiers, printers, home modifications, vehicles, if they’re business-related, and other work-related equipment including adapted equipment. Loans also can be used for equipment-related services such as and Internet services, training, maintenance and repair.

How much can I borrow?
Up to $20,000. Your loan amount will depend on your ability to repay the loan and the item(s) purchased with the loan.

How do I apply?
The Michigan Employment Loan Fund is a loan program, not a grant, which means you will have to repay your loan by making loan payments to Option 1 Credit Union. You may choose the day of the month your loan payments are due. Payments begin the month after your loan documents have been signed.

What happens after I submit my application?
Your application will be reviewed by staff to see if it is complete. We also will obtain a credit report and and may call you or request an interview. Once the application is complete, it will be submitted to the Loan Committee. The Committee meets twice a month. If the Committee approves your application, the credit union we work with will contact you and let you know the next steps to close your loan. Once all closing documents are signed and returned to Option 1 Credit Union, they will send you a check addressed jointly to you and the vendor to cover your purchase. You sign over your portion of the check and give it to the vendor. If the loan is not approved, we will notify you by letter stating the reasons for your loan denial. This letter will also include other resources if possible.

What criteria will be used to decide if I get a loan?
Both eligibility and ability to repay must be shown. Eligibility is established when you show that (a) you have a disability and (b) the item you want to buy qualifies as equipment for telework. Ability to repay is evaluated on the basis of income, expenses, current debt levels, availability of other resources and your credit history. We also look at your employment or business plan and work history.

My credit is not great. Will that disqualify me?
If you have poor credit or a history of bankruptcy, your circumstances will be evaluated on a case by case basis. You will not be automatically disqualified. The Michigan Employment Loan Fund’s typical borrower has one or more weaknesses that prevent them from accessing loans from a traditional bank. The MELF is designed to be more flexible than traditional banks with a focus on the particular needs of borrowers with disabilities. Staff will also help you identify steps you can take to improve your chances of qualifying (e.g., participating in financial counseling, taking care of past due accounts or items in collections).

My income is very limited and I’ve never taken out a loan before? Can I still apply?
Absolutely. We look at each case individually. In some cases, we may ask for a guarantor. In other cases, we can offer extended payments and/or a smaller loan.

How are the MELF’s low interest loan programs funded?
The MELF’s low interest loan programs were started by grants from the U.S. Department of Education. The program continues through funding from individual donors.

What other services does the Michigan Employment Loan Fund offer?
We help callers identify other sources of funding and resources to help with money management issues.



How to Apply:

The Michigan Employment Loan Fund is a loan program, not a grant, which means you will have to repay your loan by making loan payments to Option 1 Credit Union. You may choose the day of the month your loan payments are due. Payments begin the month after your loan documents have been signed.

  • Empl Loan Fund App in Word
  • PDF
  • To have an application mailed to you, send an email to henige [at], or call us at 1.800.828.2714
  • Mail completed loan application to:Michigan Employment Loan Fund
    c/o United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan
    3496 E. Lake Lansing Rd., Suite 170
    East Lansing, MI 48823