How to Become a MLO in Florida

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) provides regulatory oversight for the state’s financial services industry. They were created in 2003 to protect Florida citizens, promote a safe and sound financial marketplace and contribute to the growth of Florida’s economy with smart, efficient, and effective regulation of the financial services industry.

Total MLOs in Florida:
Annual Percentage Change:

35,874
15%

Short Answer

  1. Complete the Pre-Licensure Education (PE)
  2. Pass the National Exam with Uniform State Content (UST)
  3. Submit your License Application (includes a background check and credit report)

From start to finish, the entire process takes about 6 weeks to 8 weeks.

Long Answer

Basic Requirements

  • You need to be at least 18 years or older.
  • A high school diploma, or equivalent, is required.

1. Complete the Pre-Licensure Education (PE)

The OFA requires you to complete 20 hours of NMLS-approved education.

The subjects must include the following:

  • 2 hours – Non-traditional mortgage lending
  • 2 hours – Florida Law and Rules
  • 3 hours – Federal Law
  • 3 hours – Ethics (includes fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues)
  • 10 hours – Elective topics of your choice

Before you start your education, the first thing your education provider will have you do is obtain an NMLS ID# if you don’t have one. It’s a very easy process and the best part is it’s free.

If you already have NMLS ID #, you’ll just continue using the one you have.

This will be important when you’re done with the course, because your education provider will be submitting your certificates to the NMLS with your unique NMLS ID #.  

The course can be pretty dry at times, but it’s only 20 hours. There are both online and live programs that range between 5 days to 14 days.

If you take an online program, you’ll have to log at least 16.67 total hours online. The NMLS has also implemented measures to make sure you’re paying attention. For instance, if your mouse cursor is idle for more than 6 minutes, you will be logged out automatically.

The bottom line is that if you’re an honest person and taking the course as intended, you will have nothing to worry about.

2. Pass the National Exam with Uniform State Content (UST)

Technically, you don’t have to take the PE before the National Exam. However, most people do because there are things you’ll learn in there that will help you on the test.

And later on, you’ll see why you will need all the help you can get.

The NMLS has contracted with Prometric to administer their exams. They are a national testing company, so it will be easy to find a location that is close to you.

The National Exam with UST consists of 125 multiple-choice questions. You have 190 minutes to score a 75% or better to pass. The exam fee is $110.

The first step to applying for the National Exam with UST is to enroll on the NMLS website, where you’ll pay the $110 testing fee.

Once you’ve enrolled, you can schedule an exam on Prometric’s website or by calling them at (877) 671-6657.

You have 180 days to take the exam from the date that you enrolled on the NMLS website. Otherwise, you will have to repay the $110 exam fee again.

It’s absolutely crucial that you don’t take shortcuts on preparing for this test. Here’s why…

National Exam with UST Pass Rates

 Tests TakenTests PassedPass Rate
1st Attempt61,79835,91858%
Subsequent Attempts27,11011,57043%
Overall88,90847,48853%
Source: NMLS; Tests administered between 1/1/2017 to 12/31/2018

Why are pass rates so low?

Because most people buy the cheapest exam prep out there and think that they can just wing it. Don’t be like them.

You have to remember, this exam is testing you on the most current laws and regulations. Just back in February 2018, Congress passed sweeping changes to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule. A significant portion of the National Exam with UST covers this, and unless you are up-to-date on this, you will have a really hard time passing.

If you don’t pass, you can re-take it but there is a waiting period of 30 days. If you fail Attempt #2, you have to wait another 30 days. If you fail Attempt #3, you have to wait 180 days.

3. Submit Your License Application

After you successfully pass the exam, the rest is downhill.

Fill out the Multistate Uniform Individual License Form (MU4 FORM) online at the NMLS website.

This is basically just a general application form that includes your contact information, work history, and any financial or criminal disclosures you need to report. This has a $195 application fee.

 

Criminal Background Check

There will be 2 separate background checks: State and Federal.

  1. To complete the Florida state background check, your fingerprints will need to be taken through Live Scan Providers approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). You can find a list of FDLE-approved vendors here. This has a $24 fee.
  2. To complete the federal background check with the FBI, your fingerprints have to be taken by an NMLS authorized Live Scan Provider. You can schedule your fingerprinting appointment here. The turnaround time is usually only 48 hours. The Live Scan fee is $36.25

If you had your fingerprints taken in the NMLS within 3 years, then you do not need to be reprinted.

 

Credit Background Check

There is no minimum credit score or automated grading system for determining if someone passes the credit check. The SAFE Act gives each state regulator the broad discretion to review and determine what financial responsibility looks like. So, every state has different criteria, and they don’t publish what these standards are.

The credit report fee is $15.

For context, I’ve heard of people who’ve filed for bankruptcy a few months before applying and they were approved. So, if your credit score is less than stellar, that doesn’t mean you are out.

I would recommend obtaining and reviewing your free annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com before sending in your application. This way, you can resolve any disputes or issues with the credit reporting agencies before it turns into a bigger problem.

The OFR will not start reviewing your application until you’ve completed and submitted all of the items listed above. Your application will show up as “Pending-Incomplete.” Once they have everything, you application status will change to “Pending-Review” and at that point, they will begin to process your application.

Once your application is approved, you'll be a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator in Florida!