Funding Circle is here to help you navigate the complex and often confusing SBA 7(a) loan process. With great interest rates, affordable once-monthly payments and no prepayment penalties, federally-backed SBA loans are considered the gold standard in small business lending. We’ll pair you with a dedicated loan specialist who will help you prepare a complete and SBA approval-friendly application.
Over $12 billion lent to 90,000 small businesses globally.
Finding the right finance for your business can be a complicated and overwhelming experience. In this guide, we’ll teach you the in’s and out’s of SBA7(a) Small Business Loans, the perks of long term, low-cost, government-backed loans ranging from $500 to $5.5 million, and even helpful tips to make the application process smooth and speedy.Download
We know how diverse small businesses can be and we will help build a unique loan solution around your needs. We work with a network of SBA Lenders to offer in–house approvals and accelerated processing giving you fast answers and even faster closings.
Best used for expenses such as, inventory, working capital, equipment, and consolidating debt
With a dedicated Funding Circle loan specialist, we make sure you’re spending time running your business and not managing your SBA 7(a) loan application. Applying won’t affect your credit score.1
1 If your business is organized as a general partnership, your credit score may be impacted.
Here are the most common business and personal documents required to process an SBA 7(a) loan.
Note both SBA and Broker fees can be included in your loan request. To better understand anticipated rates and fees please visit our SBA 7(a) loan calculator.
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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) runs several business loan programs, including the 7(a), 8(a), 504, microloan, and disaster loan programs. These programs can help entrepreneurs start small businesses, and help existing businesses with working capital, expanding, and during emergencies.
The SBA doesn’t lend money directly. Instead, it partners with approved lenders and guarantees 40% to 85% of the loan, depending on the loan program and loan amount. The guarantee allows lenders to offer larger loans and more favorable terms to small businesses, knowing that they’ll at least get a portion of the loan back from the SBA if the business is unable to repay the loan.
While you’ll apply for an SBA loan through a lender, the SBA has guidelines for the minimum qualifications, loan amounts, terms, and interest rates. The SBA may also make the final lending decision, although it also delegates the processing and servicing to preferred lenders.
The 7(a) program is the SBA’s general small business loan program and one of the most popular loan options.
There are several types of 7(a) loans, including standard, small, and express loans, as well as loans for export and international trade businesses. These loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including buying inventory, equipment, working capital, and refinancing other business loans.
The loan amount and term will depend on the type of 7(a) loan and how you plan to use the proceeds. The SBA will guarantee 50% to 90% of the loan, depending on the type of 7(a) loan.
An SBA standard 7(a) loan is a term loan for up to $5 million that borrowers can use for almost any business purpose. The SBA will guarantee up to 75% of the loan amount, or up to 85% for loans of $150,000 or less. Standard 7(a) loans generally have a five to 10–year term. Although, the term may be up to 25 years if you use the proceeds for real estate or to purchase equipment that has a useful life of over 10 years.
The SBA sets the maximum interest rate, but your rate could vary depending on the lender, your loan amount, your creditworthiness, and whether you’re looking for a fixed or variable rate. There may also be an SBA guaranty fee based on the portion of the loan that the SBA is guaranteeing, and lenders are allowed to charge a reasonable packing fee.
An SBA 7(a) Small Loan is a type of 7(a) loan and is identical to the 7(a) standard loan in many ways. The main difference is that the loan maximum is $350,000 rather than $5 million and there are no collateral requirements for loans of $25,000 or less.
The SBA 7(a) small loan application process may be easier than a full standard loan application if you pass the SBA’s credit prescreen. The result can depend on your personal and business’ credit and finances. Failing the prescreen doesn’t mean you can’t get approved, but you’ll need to complete and submit a full SBA 7(a) standard loan application.
The SBA sets certain eligibility requirements for businesses. For 7(a) SBA loans (both standard and small loans), the business must meet the SBA size standards, be for-profit, engaged in (or planning to engage in) business in the U.S. or its territories, and the owner must be reasonably investing in the business.
You also must try to obtain other forms of business financing, including using your personal assets, before filling out an SBA 7(a) loan application. And, you may need to pass a credit check to ensure you pass an SBA minimum credit score.
Certain types of businesses aren’t eligible, based on the type of business, industry, or owner.
Businesses who engage in illegal activity or whose owner is on parole cannot qualify. SBA 7(a) loans also are not available to companies that engage in lending, speculation, gambling, pyramid sales plans, or that are real estate investment firms. The SBA has a more comprehensive list with examples on its website.
With an SBA 7(a) loan, you may be able to get approved for a larger loan amount, lower interest rate, and lower down payment than you could from a non-government-backed loan. SBA loans also have long repayment terms, which can decrease your monthly payment and limit the impact on your cash flow.
Additionally, SBA 7(a) loans have a fixed maturity, no balloon payments, and no prepayment penalties for loans with a term under 15 years.
The loan amount will depend on what type of SBA loan you’re applying for and the lender. For Standard 7(a) SBA loans, the maximum amount is $5 million. For Small Loan 7(a) SBA loans, the maximum amount is $350,000. The SBA doesn’t set a minimum loan amount, but many SBA lenders have their own minimums, such as $25,000 or $30,000.
In 2019, the average 7(a) loan was for $446,487, and a little over a third of all 7(a) loans were for more than $2 million.
At Funding Circle, our network of SBA partners offers 7(a) loans between $25,000 and $500,000 (as of August 10, 2020).
You can use the loan proceeds from an SBA 7(a) loan for most legal business purposes. These include starting a business, buying equipment or inventory, working capital, refinancing debt, and buying out a business partner.
SBA lenders may offer 7(a) loans for limited purposes. For example, Funding Circle’s network of partner lenders offers 7(a) standard and small loans for almost any activity, but we’re not currently offering loans for real estate purchases.
Standard and small 7(a) loans are amortized loans that have monthly payments and a set payoff date. There are no prepayment penalties for loans with a term shorter than 15 years.
For loans with a fixed interest rate, your monthly payment will remain the same during repayment – there are no balloon payments. For loans with a variable interest rate, your monthly payment may change, but the repayment period will not.
In some cases, you may be able to make interest–only payments when you first take out the loan, and then full payments after the initial period. This repayment structure could be beneficial if you’re starting a new business or using the funds to expand your business, but won’t earn extra revenue until the expansion is complete. In this way, worries around what happens if you default on an SBA loan are eased slightly.
Generally, it can take one to two months to complete the SBA 7(a) loan application process and receive funding. The process may be delayed for startups that have trouble forming a business entity, or if business owners aren’t able to quickly gather and submit the required documents.
SBA 7(a) loans for $25,000 or less do not require a down payment or collateral.
Loans of $25,000 to $350,000 may require a first lien on assets that you finance with the loan, plus a lien on your business’ fixed assets. Lenders that require other forms of collateral on their similarly sized non–SBA loans may ask for that type of collateral on their SBA loans as well.
For loans above $350,000, the lender is required to ”fully secure” the loan. You may be able to do this using your business’s assets as collateral. However, if they’re not worth enough, lenders may also ask you to use your personal residence or investment real estate as collateral.
If you don’t have enough business and personal assets to offer in order to meet the SBA 7(a) loan collateral requirements, you may still be able to get a 7(a) loan. On its own, lack of collateral won’t be a reason for your application to be denied.
An SBA 7(a) loan may require a 10% to 20% down payment if you’re using the money to purchase real estate, start a new business, buy a business, or buy out a business partner. The down payment is also called an equity injection.
The SBA uses the FICO® Small Business Scoring Service℠ (SBSS) to score and prescreen businesses that apply for an SBA 7(a) loan of $350,000 or less – an SBA 7(a) small loan.
The score ranges from 0 to 300, and can factor in your personal and business credit. You’ll need an SBA minimum credit score of 140 or higher to be approved by the prescreening. If your score is below that, you may need to submit a full standard 7(a) application for review.
Some lenders may have a higher minimum than the SBA’s requirement, such as an SBSS score of 160. SBA lenders may also set minimum FICO Scores for business owners who are applying for an SBA loan. For 7(a) SBA loans: Different lenders may use different FICO requirements to determine eligibility. Typically, you’ll see minimum credit score requirements of at least 640 to 680.
For example, at Funding Circle, each personal guarantor must have a minimum FICO score of at least 680.
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