Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is a professional development (PD) loan and what can it be used for?
A: The loan may be used for:
– Short-term (1 year or less) professional development activity
– Exam fees with a professional governing association*
– Travel expenses to write an exam
– Tuition, books, fees (e.g laboratory fess), course materials, equipment cost
– Living allowance during a short-term internship or co-op placement administered by a college, university or community partner
– Other applicable expenses related to your professional development as approved by OCLF

*A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) is usually a nonprofit organization seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession and the public interest.


Q: What can a business loan be used for?
A: The loan may be used for:
– Starting a new business
– Expanding or maintaining your business (less than 5 years old)
– Buying an existing business
– Business start-up costs
Cannot be used for: Research and development


Q: Are these programs and loans only for professionals or for people who have degrees?
A: Our programs and loans are for anyone who meets the basic eligibility criteria:
– Over 18 years old
– Resident of Ottawa
– Permanent resident or Canadian Citizen
– Acceptable credit history
– Tradespeople, skilled workers, professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs are encouraged to speak with OCLF staff


Q: Does it matter where I live?
A: Yes. We predominantly lend to people living in the Ottawa area but please contact us as some exceptions apply.


Q: Can I meet with an OCLF Loans Officer in person?
A: Yes, and we can meet you at your place of convenience. To book an appointment, please contact:


Q: Does OCLF make money from the loans?
A: No. OCLF is a non-profit organization whose operating expenses are covered from other sources. All loan interest goes to the loan fund/lending partner to provide loans to future applicants, to cover loans in default, to pay for the interest OCLF pays if it has borrowed the money it lends out, and to pay bank service charges.


Q: How much will my payments be?
A: Your credit score and history determines the interest rate you will be paying on your loan. Therefore, your payment will depend on your interest rate, the amount you borrow, the length of your professional development activity and the repayment time. For example, if you borrow $5,000 for a six (6) month program at 8.70% with three (3) years repayment:
– During your program (6 months) you pay interest only: 36.25 $ / month
– The following three (3) months are still interest only: 36.25 $ / month
– After that, you will pay interest + principal for 36 months: 158.30 $ / month
– At the end, you will have paid a total of about $6,025.05
– There are no penalty fees for repaying your loan faster than originally planned


Q: What type of loans are ineligible?
A: Loans to finance a vehicle or asset purchase.
Loans for debt consolidations.
Loans not related to professional development or business activities.
Loans for living expenses, unless you are in a short-term internship or co-op placement administered by a college, university or community partner.



Q: How can I access OCLF Educational Services?
A: Educational Services are offered to eligible participants through Community Partner organizations. Visit our Partners Menu tab to see our Community Partners, including Employment and Settlement Service Centre, Community Health and Resources, or Entrepreneurial Development Centre or ask them directly.


Q: Who is best served by OCLF Educational Services?
A: OCLF practices financial inclusion and Educational Services are tailored to different groups. OCLF Educational Services help anyone facing barriers to employment or who feel underserved by the mainstream financial services. We have proven success with Newcomers and second language speakers, having developed material using plain language and explaining concepts in concrete terms within a cultural context.


Q: Are Educational Services free?
A: Yes.


Q: What type of Educational Services exist at OCLF?
A: Workshops on Credit and Loans, Budgeting and Savings, and Introduction to Starting a Business, as well as an extended entrepreneurship program (30+hrs). All services are offered through Community Partners. Visit the Educational Services Menu tab for more detail.


Q: What has been the documented impact of OCLF Educational Services?
A: Participants of workshops and training share with us their increased confidence in dealing with credit as a result of having more fact-based knowledge of the credit or business development systems and their options within those systems.


Q: If I am a service provider, how can my organization become a Community Partner and be able to host OCLF Educational Services?
A: By contacting OCLF at