The SBA Program
ICS arranges SBA loans on a national level for growing businesses. The SBA program allows business owners to purchase and refinance commercial properties with as little as 10% down.
Affordable Rates & Terms
Loan Amounts Up to $5 million
Maximum Rates 4% - 10%
Terms Up to 25 Years
Uses: Starting a Business; Working Capital; Purchasing property; Equipment, Fixtures, Inventory, Lease-hold improvements; Refinancing debt
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. Small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America's future, and to helping the United States compete in today's global marketplace. Although SBA has grown and evolved in the years since it was established in 1953, the bottom line mission remains the same. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
What the SBA Offers
The SBA offer small business owners a number of different loan programs. The programs are many and varied, and the qualifications for each are specific. SBA can help facilitate a loan for you with a third party lender, guarantee a bond, or help you find venture capital. Understanding how SBA works is the first step towards receiving assistance.
SBA provides a number of financial assistance programs for small businesses that have been specifically designed to meet key financing needs, including debt financing, surety bonds, and equity financing.
Guaranteed Loan Programs (Debt Financing)
SBA does not make direct loans to small businesses. Rather, SBA sets the guidelines for loans, which are then made by its partners (lenders, community development organizations, and microlending institutions). The SBA guarantees that these loans will be repaid, thus eliminating some of the risk to the lending partners. So when a business applies for an SBA loan, it is actually applying for a commercial loan, structured according to SBA requirements with an SBA guaranty. SBA-guaranteed loans may not be made to a small business if the borrower has access to other financing on reasonable terms.
SBA loan guaranty requirements and practices can change as the Government alters its fiscal policy and priorities to meet current economic conditions. Therefore, you can’t rely on past policy when seeking assistance in today's market.
Bonding Program (Surety Bonds)
SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee (SBG) Program helps small business contractors who cannot obtain surety bonds through regular commercial channels.
A surety bond is a three-party instrument between a surety (someone who agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of another), a contractor and a project owner. The agreement binds the contractor to comply with the terms and conditions of a contract. If the contractor is unable to successfully perform the contract, the surety assumes the contractor's responsibilities and ensures that the project is completed.
Through the SBG Program, the SBA makes an agreement with a surety guaranteeing that SBA will assume a percentage of loss in the event the contractor should breach the terms of the contract. The SBA's guarantee gives sureties an incentive to provide bonding for eligible contractors, thereby strengthening a contractor's ability to obtain bonding and greater access to contracting opportunities for small businesses.
SBA can guarantee bonds for contracts up to $5 million, covering bid, performance and payment bonds, and in some cases up to $10 million for certain contracts.
Venture Capital Program
SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program is a public-private investment partnership created to help fill the gap between the availability of growth capital and the needs of small businesses. The SBA does not invest directly in small businesses, relying instead on the expertise of qualified private investment funds. The SBA licenses these funds as SBICs and supplements the capital they raise from private investors with access to low-cost, government-guaranteed debt.
With these two sources of capital backing them, SBICs search across the United States for promising businesses in need of debt or equity financing. SBICs are similar to other investment funds in terms of how they operate and their pursuit of high returns. However, unlike other funds, SBICs limit their investments to qualified small business concerns as defined by SBA regulations.
SBA LOAN PROGRAMS
SBA 7(a) Loan
7(a) loans have a maximum loan amount of $5 million. SBA does not set a minimum loan amount. The average 7(a) loan amount in fiscal year 2015 was $371,628.
Loans guaranteed by the SBA are assessed a guarantee fee. This fee is based on the loan’s maturity and the dollar amount guaranteed, not the total loan amount. The lender initially pays the guaranty fee and they have the option to pass that expense on to the borrower at closing. The funds to reimburse the lender can be included in the overall loan proceeds.
On loans under $150,000 made after October 1, 2013, the fees will be set at zero percent. On any loan greater than $150,000 with a maturity of one year or shorter, the fee is 0.25 percent of the guaranteed portion of the loan. On loans with maturities of more than one year, the normal fee is 3 percent of the SBA-guaranteed portion on loans of $150,000 to $700,000, and 3.5 percent on loans of more than $700,000. There is also an additional fee of 0.25 percent on any guaranteed portion of more than $1 million.
The actual interest rate for a 7(a) loan guaranteed by the SBA is negotiated between the applicant and lender and subject to the SBA maximums. Both fixed and variable interest rate structures are available. The maximum rate is composed of two parts, a base rate and an allowable spread. There are three acceptable base rates (A prime rate published in a daily national newspaper*, London Interbank One Month Prime plus 3 percent and an SBA Peg Rate).
Lenders are allowed to add an additional spread to the base rate to arrive at the final rate. For loans with maturities of shorter than seven years, the maximum spread will be no more than 2.25 percent. For loans with maturities of seven years or more, the maximum spread will be 2.75 percent. The spread on loans of less than $50,000 and loans processed through Express procedures have higher maximums.
*All references to the prime rate refer to the base rate in effect on the first business day of the month the loan application is received by the SBA.
Percentage of Guarantee
SBA can guarantee as much as 85 percent on loans of up to $150,000 and 75 percent on loans of more than $150,000. SBA’s maximum exposure amount is $3,750,000. Thus, if a business receives an SBA-guaranteed loan for $5 million, the maximum guarantee to the lender will be $3,750,000 or 75%. SBA Express loans have a maximum guarantee set at 50 percent.
Use of 7(a) Loan Proceeds
Basic uses for 7(a) loan proceeds include:
- To provide long-term working capital to use to pay operational expenses, accounts payable and/or to purchase inventory
- Short-term working capital needs, including seasonal financing, contract performance, construction financing and exporting
- Revolving funds based on the value of existing inventory and receivables, under special conditions
- To purchase equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies or materials
- To purchase real estate, including land and buildings
- To construct a new building or renovate an existing building
- To establish a new business or assist in the acquisition, operation or expansion of an existing business
- To refinance existing business debt, under certain conditions
SBA loans cannot be used for these purposes:
- To refinance existing debt where the lender is in a position to sustain a loss and SBA would take over that loss through refinancing
- To affect a partial change of business ownership or a change that will not benefit the business
- To permit the reimbursement of funds owed to any owner, including any equity injection or injection of capital to continue the business until the SBA-backed loan is disbursed
- To repay delinquent state or federal withholding taxes or other funds that should be held in trust or escrow
- For a purpose that is not considered to be a sound business purpose as determined by SBA
- If you are unsure whether or not your anticipated use of funds is allowed, check with your SBA-approved lender
7(a) Loan Program Eligibility
SBA generally does not specify what businesses are eligible. Rather, the agency outlines what businesses are not eligible. However, there are some universally applicable requirements. To be eligible for assistance, businesses must:
- Operate for profit
- Be engaged in, or propose to do business in, the United States or its possessions
- Have reasonable invested equity
- Use alternative financial resources, including personal assets, before seeking financial assistance
- Be able to demonstrate a need for the loan proceeds
- Use the funds for a sound business purpose
- Not be delinquent on any existing debt obligations to the U.S. government
A business must be engaged in an activity SBA determines as acceptable for financial assistance from a federal provider. The following list of businesses types are not eligible for assistance because of the activities they conduct:
- Financial businesses primarily engaged in the business of lending, such as banks, finance companies, payday lenders, some leasing companies and factors (pawn shops, although engaged in lending, may qualify in some circumstances)
- Businesses owned by developers and landlords that do not actively use or occupy the assets acquired or improved with the loan proceeds (except when the property is leased to the business at zero profit for the property’s owners)
- Life insurance companies
- Businesses located in a foreign country (businesses in the U.S. owned by aliens may qualify)
- Businesses engaged in pyramid sale distribution plans, where a participant's primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants
- Businesses deriving more than one-third of gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities
- Businesses engaged in any illegal activity
- Private clubs and businesses that limit the number of memberships for reasons other than capacity
- Government-owned entities
- Businesses principally engaged in teaching, instructing, counseling or indoctrinating religion or religious beliefs, whether in a religious or secular setting
- Consumer and marketing cooperatives (producer cooperatives are eligible)
- Loan packagers earning more than one third of their gross annual revenue from packaging SBA loans
- Businesses in which the lender or CDC, or any of its associates owns an equity interest
- Businesses that present live performances of an indecent sexual nature or derive directly or indirectly more 2.5 percent of gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of an indecent sexual nature
- Businesses primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities
- Speculative businesses (such as oil exploration)
There are also eligibility factors for financial assistance based on the activities of the owners and the historical operation of the business. As such, the business cannot have been:
- A business that caused the government to have incurred a loss related to a prior business debt
- A business owned 20 percent or more by a person associated with a different business that caused the government to have incurred a loss related to a prior business debt
- A business owned 20 percent or more by a person who is incarcerated, on probation, on parole, or has been indicted for a felony or a crime of moral depravity
Special considerations apply to some types of businesses and individuals, which include:
- Franchises are eligible except when a franchiser retains power to control operations to such an extent as to equate to an employment contract; the franchisee must have the right to profit from efforts commensurate with ownership
- Recreational facilities and clubs are eligible if the facilities are open to the general public, or in membership-only situations, membership is not selectively denied or restricted to any particular groups
- Farms and agricultural businesses are eligible, but these applicants should first explore Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs, particularly if the applicant has a prior or existing relationship with FSA
- Fishing vessels are eligible, but those seeking funds for the construction or reconditioning of vessels with a cargo capacity of five tons or more must first request financing from the National Marine Fisheries Service
- Privately owned medical facilities including hospitals, clinics, emergency outpatient facilities, and medical and dental laboratories are eligible; recovery and nursing homes are also eligible, provided they are licensed by the appropriate government agency and they provide more than room and board
- An Eligible Passive Company (EPC) must use loan proceeds to acquire or lease, and/or improve or renovate, real or personal property that it leases to one or more operating companies and must not make any profit from conducting its activities
- Legal aliens are eligible; however, consideration is given to status (e.g., resident, lawful temporary resident) in determining the business’ degree of risk
- Probation or parole: Applications will not be accepted from firms in which a principal is currently incarcerated, on parole, on probation or is a defendant in a criminal proceeding
SBA 504 Loan
CDC/504 Loan Amounts, Interest Rates & Fees
- Job Creation - The maximum SBA debenture is $5 million for meeting the job creation criteria or a community development goal. Generally, your business must create or retain one job for every $65,000 provided by the SBA, except for small manufacturers, which have a $100,000 job creation or retention goal (see below).
- Public Policy - The maximum SBA debenture is $5 million or $5.5 for small manufacturing or when meeting the public policy goals of energy reduction or alternative fuelsl. Examples of public policy goals include:
- Business district revitalization
- Expansion of exports
- Expansion of minority business development
- Rural development
- Increasing productivity and competitiveness
- Restructuring because of federally mandated standards or policies
- Changes necessitated by federal budget cutbacks
- Expansion of small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans (especially service-disabled veterans)
- Expansion of small business concerns owned and controlled by women
- Small Manufacturing - The maximum debenture for small manufacturers is $5.5 million. A small manufacturer is defined as a business with its primary business classified in sector 31, 32, or 33 of the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), and all of its production facilities located in the United States. To qualify for a $5.5 million 504 loan, your business must meet the definition of a small manufacturer and accomplish one of the following:
- Create or retain 1 job opportunity per $100,000 guaranteed by the SBA [Section 501(d)(1) of the Small Business Investment Act (SBI Act)]
- Achieve one of the community development or public policy goals [sections 501(d)(2) or (3) of the SBI Act]
- Interest rates on 504 loans are pegged to an increment above the current market rate for 5-year and 10-year U.S. Treasury issues.
- Fees total approximately 3 percent of the debenture and may be financed with the loan.
- Maturity terms of 10 and 20 years are available.
- Generally, the project assets being financed are used as collateral. Personal guarantees of the principal owners are also required.
Use of CDC/504 Loan Proceeds
- The purchase of land, including existing buildings
- The purchase of improvements, including grading, street improvements, utilities, parking lots and landscaping
- The construction of new facilities or modernizing, renovating or converting existing facilities
- The purchase of long-term machinery and equipment
A 504 loan cannot be used for:
- Working capital or inventory
- Consolidating, repaying or refinancing debt
- Speculation or investment in rental real estate
SBA Loan Property Types
Business owner must occupy 51% or more of the property total square footage
- Self Storage Facilities
- Office Buildings
- Land Development
- Retail Centers
- Raw Land
- Mixed Use
- Convenience Stores
- Gas Stations
- Car Wash
- New Residential Development
- Pawn Shops
- Golf Courses
- Auto Body Repair
- Owner Occupied Business
- Special Purpose Properties
- Gold Mines
Documentation Needed for Small Business Loan Applications
The SBA is not your only source for small business loans. State and local economic development agencies as well as numerous nonprofit organizations provide low-interest loans to small business owners who may not qualify for traditional commercial loans. This page will help to ensure that you are prepared when you decide to apply for a small business loan.
While every loan program has specific forms you need to fill out and documents you need to submit, you will likely need to submit much of the same information for different loan packages. Before you start applying for loans, you should get some basic documentation together. The following are typical items that will be required for any small business loan application:
- Personal Background: Either as part of the loan application or as a separate document, you will probably be asked to provide some personal background information, including previous addresses, names used, criminal record, educational background, etc.
- Resumes: Some lenders require evidence of management or business experience, particularly for loans that are intended to be used to start a new business.
- Business Plan: All loan programs require a sound business plan to be submitted with the loan application. The business plan should include a complete set of projected financial statements, including profit and loss, cash flow and a balance sheet.
- Personal Credit Report: Your lender will obtain your personal credit report as part of the application process. However, you should obtain a credit report from all three major consumer credit rating agencies before submitting a loan application to the lender. Inaccuracies and blemishes on your credit report can hurt your chances of getting a loan approved. It’s critical you try to clear these up before beginning the application process.
- Business Credit Report: If you are already in business, you should be prepared to submit a credit report for your business. As with the personal credit report, it is important to review your business’ credit report before beginning the application process.
- Income Tax Returns: Most loan programs require applicants to submit personal and business income tax returns for the previous 3 years.
- Financial Statements: Many loan programs require owners with more than a 20 percent stake in your business to submit signed personal financial statements. You may also be required to provide projected financial statements either as part of, or separate from, your business plan. It is a good idea to have these prepared and ready in case a program for which you are applying requires these documents to be submitted individually.
- Bank Statements: Many loan programs require one year of personal and business bank statements to be submitted as part of a loan package.
- Collateral: Collateral requirements vary greatly. Some loan programs do not require collateral. Loans involving higher risk factors for default require substantial collateral. Strong business plans and financial statements can help you avoid putting up collateral. In any case, it is a good idea to prepare a collateral document that describes cost/value of personal or business property that will be used to secure a loan.
- Legal Documents: Depending on a loan’s specific requirements, your lender may require you to submit one or more legal documents. Make sure you have the following items in order, if applicable:
- Business licenses and registrations required for you to conduct business
- Articles of Incorporation
- Copies of contracts you have with any third parties
- Franchise agreements
- Commercial leases
Questions Your Lender Will Ask You
Forms vary by program and lending institution, but they all ask for the same information. You should be prepared to answer the following questions. It’s a good idea to have this information prepared before you fill out the application:
- Why are you applying for this loan?
- How will the loan proceeds be used?
- What assets need to be purchased, and who are your suppliers?
- What other business debt do you have, and who are your creditors?
- Who are the members of your management team?