Frequently Asked Questions on SBA Loans and Support


What is the Small Business Administration (SBA)?

The Small Business Administration is a U.S. government agency that provides support to small businesses and entrepreneurs. The SBA offers various loan programs, counseling services, and business development resources to help small businesses succeed.


How do SBA loans work?

The SBA guarantees a portion of the loan made by an SBA-approved lender, such as a bank or credit union. This guarantee reduces the risk for the lender, making it more likely for small businesses to obtain financing.


What are the different types of SBA loans?

The most common SBA loan programs include 7(a) loans, 504 loans, Microloans, and Express loans. Each program caters to specific business needs, such as working capital, commercial real estate, or smaller loan amounts.


Can I use an SBA loan to start a business?

Yes, SBA loans can be used to start a business. However, you must demonstrate a need for the loan, have a solid business plan, and meet the eligibility criteria.


What are the interest rates for SBA loans?

Interest rates for SBA loans vary depending on the loan program, loan amount, and repayment terms. Generally, SBA loans offer competitive interest rates compared to traditional bank loans.


How long does it take to get approved for an SBA loan?

The approval time for an SBA loan depends on the loan program and the completeness of your application. Traditional SBA loans may take several weeks or months, while SBA Express loans can have a decision within 36 hours.


Do I need collateral for an SBA loan?

Collateral requirements vary depending on the loan program and the amount you are borrowing. In some cases, the SBA may require collateral, such as real estate or business assets, to secure the loan.


How do I find an SBA-approved lender?

You can use the SBA’s Lender Match tool to find an SBA-approved lender in your area. Alternatively, you can contact your local SBA office or Small Business Development Center for assistance.


What is the maximum loan amount for an SBA loan?

The maximum loan amount varies by program. For example, the 7(a) loan program has a maximum loan amount of $5 million, while the Microloan program has a maximum loan amount of $50,000.


Can I have multiple SBA loans at the same time?

Yes, you can have multiple SBA loans as long as the combined amount does not exceed the maximum lending limit for the respective loan programs.


How do I qualify for an SBA loan?

To qualify for an SBA loan, you must operate a for-profit business in the U.S., have invested your own time and money into the business, demonstrate a need for the loan, and meet the specific eligibility criteria for the loan program.


Can a startup qualify for an SBA loan?

Yes, startups can qualify for SBA loans. However, they must have a solid business plan, demonstrate industry experience, and meet the eligibility criteria for the loan program.


Are SBA loans only for small businesses?

SBA loans are designed to support small businesses. The SBA has specific size standards based on industry to determine if a business qualifies as “small.”


Can I use an SBA loan to buy an existing business?

Yes, you can use an SBA loan to buy an existing business. You will need to provide a detailed business plan, financial projections, and demonstrate how the acquisition will benefit the business.


What happens if I default on an SBA loan?

If you default on an SBA loan, the lender may pursue collection efforts and legal action to recover the outstanding balance. Additionally, the SBA may also seek repayment of the guaranteed portion of the loan. Defaulting on an SBA loan can negatively impact your credit score and make it difficult to obtain financing in the future.

What credit score is required for an SBA loan? There is no specific minimum credit score required for an SBA loan, but most lenders prefer a credit score of at least 640-680. However, other factors, such as your business’s financial health and your ability to repay the loan, also play a significant role in the approval process.

Are non-U.S. citizens eligible for SBA loans? Non-U.S. citizens may be eligible for SBA loans if they have a valid green card (permanent resident status) or E-1, E-2, H-1B, L-1, or O-1 visa. They must also meet the same eligibility requirements as U.S. citizens.

Can I refinance an existing loan with an SBA loan?

Yes, you can refinance existing business debt with an SBA loan. However, you must demonstrate that the new loan will provide a significant benefit to your business, such as reducing monthly payments or extending the loan term.

Can I use an SBA loan to purchase real estate?

Yes, SBA loans can be used to purchase commercial real estate. The SBA 504 loan program is specifically designed to help businesses acquire or expand their commercial real estate or purchase major equipment.

How long is the repayment term for an SBA loan?

Repayment terms for SBA loans vary depending on the loan program and the use of funds. For example, SBA 7(a) loans have a maximum repayment term of 10 years for working capital and 25 years for real estate. Microloans have a maximum repayment term of six years.

By understanding the ins and outs of SBA loans and support, you can make informed decisions about financing your business and leveraging the resources available to you. Use these FAQs as a starting point to explore the various SBA loan programs and support services that can help your small business grow and thrive.