Interested in the Small Dollar Loan Program? Get Ready to Apply Today!

Programs and Initiatives
Interested in the Small Dollar Loan Program? Get Ready to Apply Today!

Update: March 31, 2021:The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) staff will hold an informational pre-application webinar for the Small Dollar Loan Program on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Topics covered will include setting up your critical SAM.gov and Grants.gov accounts, adjusting your organizational profile in the Awards Management Information System (AMIS), and other ways your organization can prepare in advance for the FY 2021 application round.

Small Dollar Loan Program Pre-Application Webinar

Advance registration is not required to participate in the webinar. Please access the webinar, using the link provided below, at least five minutes prior to the beginning of the webinar. Requests for reasonable accommodations under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act should be directed to Jay Santiago at the CDFI Fund at 202-653-0300.

Viewing this webinar requires the use of WebEx. To download the Webex Meetings Desktop Application, please see the instructions on the WebEx Downloads webpage.

Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Time: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern Time (ET)

Access Details:

Please read on below for additional important information about preparing to apply (originally published March 18, 2021).


Later this spring, the CDFI Fund will be accepting applications for a new grant program, the Small Dollar Loan Program. The Small Dollar Loan Program was created to encourage Certified CDFIs to establish and maintain small dollar loan programs and provide alternatives to high cost small dollar loans. For this program, small dollar loans are unsecured loans of up to $2,500. The grants may be used for two eligible activities, loan loss reserves and technical assistance activities.

Through the Small Dollar Loan Program, Certified CDFIs will use award funds to help unbanked and underbanked populations build credit, access affordable capital, and allow greater access into the mainstream financial system. Certified CDFIs may use these funds individually, or through a partnership between a Certified CDFI and any Federally Insured Depository Institution with a primary mission to serve targeted Investment Areas, or through a partnership between two or more Certified CDFIs. The CDFI Fund currently anticipates that up to $13.5 million will be available for the FY 2021 application round of the Small Dollar Loan Program.

More information about the Small Dollar Loan Program, including details about the application and the requirements to apply, will be made available soon. However, organizations interested in applying for FY 2021 funds should start their preparations now by following the “Getting Ready to Apply” steps outlined below. And stay tuned for additional news about the program by subscribing to receive updates from the CDFI Fund.

Prepare Now: Initial “Getting Ready to Apply” Steps

The below information has been previously released for other CDFI Fund program application rounds. As always, the CDFI Fund encourages you to thoroughly review the information provided on SAM.gov and Grants.gov in advance, as the CDFI Fund is not responsible for maintaining those systems and processes may change.

To successfully submit a Small Dollar Loan Program funding application, your organization will need to have key information on hand and account access for several different federal government websites. You should act now to speed things up for your organization when the application period opens for the Small Dollar Loan Program.

Completing the following will ensure that you will be able to access required forms and information in SAM.gov, Grants.gov, and AMIS. Please note that while we have done our best to compile useful links to help you, the CDFI Fund is not responsible for maintaining links or the accuracy of the information on other organizations' websites.

Step 1: Obtain your DUNS and EIN Numbers

Each applicant must provide, as part of its application submission, a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. Applicants without a DUNS number will not be able to register in SAM.gov and Grants.gov, nor submit a Standard Form (SF)-424 Mandatory in the Grants.gov system. Further, the DUNS number in your SAM.gov, Grants.gov, and AMIS accounts must all match and must be the correct DUNS number of the Applicant. Be careful not to enter the DUNS number of an affiliate or parent organization. Doing so will cause your Application to be deemed ineligible.

Applicants must also have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to register in SAM.gov, which is a prerequisite to submit a SF-424 Mandatory via Grants.gov. Applicants that do not have an EIN number must apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain the number. Further, the EIN number in your SAM.gov and AMIS accounts must match and must be the correct EIN number of the applicant. Be careful not to enter the EIN of an affiliate or parent organization. Doing so will cause your Application to be deemed ineligible.

Step 2: Create or Update Your SAM.gov Account

SAM is an official website of the U.S. government that collects, validates, stores, and disseminates business information about the federal government's trading partners in support of the contract awards, grants, and electronic payment processes. You must have an active registration in SAM.gov to do business with the federal government.

Registration in SAM is required as part of the Grants.gov registration process and for all applications submitted for the Small Dollar Loan Program.

Applicants that have previously registered with SAM must verify their accounts are current and active, as they need to be renewed annually. Even if your organization has registered with SAM previously, you should not assume that your account is still active. Also, the process to reactivate your SAM account may take longer than you anticipate. If your SAM.gov account is not active, you will be unable to submit the Grants.gov portion of your application. Additionally, if your organization is selected to receive a Small Dollar Loan Program award, the funds from your award will be paid to the bank account you have on file with SAM.gov. Therefore, it is important to have accurate bank information in the system.

Step 3: Create or Update Your Grants.gov Account

Applicants must have a Grants.gov account and submit the appropriate SF-424 Mandatory by the deadline listed in the applicable program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) published in the Federal Register.

The appropriate SF-424 Mandatory must be completed and submitted electronically via Grants.gov before the application materials are due in your AMIS account. You will not be able to submit the SF-424 Mandatory to the CDFI Fund directly. If you upload the SF-424 Mandatory to your AMIS account, it will not be reviewed. An SF-424 Mandatory must be submitted separately for each program applied to on an annual basis, in accordance with each program's NOFA.

Step 4: Create or Update Your AMIS Account

Make sure your AMIS account is up-to-date: verify the contacts for your organization are current and assign them the proper permissions. Only a user designated as an Authorized Representative in AMIS can sign the Small Dollar Loan Program application. Make sure that the person signing the application as the "Authorized Representative" has authority to sign legal documents on behalf of your organization. Consultants working on behalf of your organization cannot be designated as Authorized Representatives. Be sure to include e-mail addresses and phone numbers for each contact. Also, make sure that your organization's mailing address is correct.

In addition, your organization must have an EIN/Tax ID and DUNs number recorded in AMIS in order to submit your application when the applicable funding round is opened. These numbers should reflect those recorded in the SF-424 Mandatory.

Please note:

*Applicants are advised that the stated durations are estimates only and represent minimum timeframes. Actual timeframes may take longer.