SBA Loan Guide
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several programs to help small businesses get the funding they need. These debts are issued by approved lenders and guaranteed by the government.
These products offer very competitive interest rates, low down payment requirements, favorable terms, and high borrowing limits.
While they can be difficult to qualify for, they tend to offer greater benefits than ones from banks or alternative lenders.
There are several different programs designed to assist with various aspects of small business operations.
The 7(a) loan program is the primary small business financing program. These are great for most small businesses as they can be used for nearly any application.
In addition to the 7(a) loan program, the Small Business Administration offers other programs, such as:
These programs are meant to provide assistance to small businesses with special needs. For example, a small business that is affected by a natural disaster can use a disaster recovery loan to avoid going out of business.
In most cases, though, small businesses can get all the assistance they need via the 7(a) program.
Borrowing limits depend on the type you apply for.
For standard 7(a) options, small businesses can borrow a maximum of $5 million. The SBA will guarantee 85% for balances up to $150,000 and 75% for balances greater than that.
The 7(a) small loans have a maximum loan amount of $350,000. The guarantee is the same for these as it is for standard 7(a).
Interest Rates & Terms
Since the Small Business Administration guarantees a significant portion of these debts, lenders are able to offer very competitive interest rates and terms.
The government does not guarantee a specific interest rate, but does prevent lenders from exceeding a maximum rate. Currently, the maximum interest rate is 10.25%, but lower interest rates can be obtained if you have a good credit history.
- Repayment term
The repayment term for an 7(a) can be as long as 25 years for commercial real estate. Debts used for working capital can have terms of up to seven years. For equipment, terms can be up to 10 years.
- Approval time
It’s always better to get your money sooner rather than later. While disbursement times vary on a case-by-case basis, they tend to offer fast turnaround time.
For standard 7(a) options, they are usually able to respond to applications within 5-10 business days.
If you need your money as fast as possible, the Small Business Administration offers SBA Express. For these options, they will review your application within 36 hours.
After approval, it typically takes 30 to 90 days to receive funding.
For balances under $25,000, they do not require lenders to secure collateral. Though lenders may still require you to offer collateral, depending on your financial circumstances.
For balancesover $350,000, they require lenders to secure as much collateral as possible up to the total amount.
SBA 7(a) Loan Requirements
Since the government does not lend money itself, the requirements for these options depend on your lender.
That being said, there are a few standard requirements that you will likely have to meet, including:
- A minimum credit score of 680
- A 10% down payment, if using your funds for real estate
- Sufficient collateral
- No recent liens, bankruptcies, or foreclosures
The business must also be a for-profit business in the United States. You may also need to meet certain size standards.
How to Apply
Applying is similar to applying for any other small business debt funding. It’s important to be prepared for this process in order to get your funding as quickly as possible.
Just follow a few steps to get started on your application.
- Choose a program
As previously mentioned, the SBA 7(a) program is right for most small businesses.
That being said, there are several other programs to help businesses in unique circumstances.
Visit SBA.gov for more information about the various programs and to find the right one for your needs.
- Find a lender
Finding an approved lender easy.
All you need to do is use the SBA’s Lender Match tool to find providers in your area. After searching for lenders, be sure to get quotes and compare offers from at least three different providers.
This will ensure you find the lender that offers the best rates and terms.
- Complete your application
To speed up the application and approval process, be sure to have the following documents prepared in advance:
- Business tax returns
- Personal tax returns
- Debt history
- Profit and loss statements
- Financial projections
- Business licenses
- Expected return on investment
- Owner resumes
- Business lease
- Proof of ownership
- Balance sheets
These documents, in addition to similar information, will help lenders get a clear picture of your financial circumstances.
You will need these documents to be approved for one and preparing them in advance will streamline the application process.
Based on a 15 year, $250,000 loan (less down payment) at 7.25% APR