SBA 7a Commercial Loans

SBA 7a Loans

SBA 7a loans are the most basic and most used type loan of SBA's business loan programs. Its name comes from section 7a of the Small Business Administration Act, which authorizes the Agency to provide business loans to American small businesses. SBA 7a loans are only available on a guaranty basis. This means they are provided by lenders who choose to structure their own loans by SBA's requirements and who apply and receive a guaranty from SBA on a portion of this loan. The SBA does not fully guaranty 7a loans. The lender and SBA share the risk that a borrower will not be able to repay the loan in full. The guaranty is a guaranty against payment default.

Sba 7a Loans - Requirements
Medical, Dental, Industrial, Commercial, Manufacturing, Car Wash, Montessori Schools, Day Care, Assisted Living, Liquor Stores, C-Stores, Auto Repair, Office, Warehouse, Medical Labs, and Restaurants
>51% Owner Occupied
Origination Fee
Prepayment Penalty
Learn about SBA 7a Changes
SBA 7a Interest Rates

Under the guaranty concept, commercial lenders make and administer the loans.

The business applies to a lender for their financing. The lender decides if they will make the loan internally or if the application has some weaknesses which, in their opinion, will require an SBA guaranty if the loan is to be made. The guaranty which SBA provides is only available to the lender. It assures the lender that in the event the borrower does not repay their obligation and a payment default occurs, the Government will reimburse the lender for its loss, up to the percentage of SBA's guaranty. Under this program, the borrower remains obligated for the full amount due.

All SBA 7a loans which SBA guaranty must meet the SBA 7a criteria. The business gets a loan from its lender with a 7a structure and the lender gets an SBA guaranty on a portion or percentage of this loan. Hence the primary business loan assistance program available to small business from the SBA is called the 7a guaranty loan program.

A key concept of the SBA 7a guaranty loan program is that the loan actually comes from a commercial lender, not the Government. If the lender is not willing to provide the loan, even if they may be able to get an SBA guaranty, the Agency can not force the lender to change their mind. Neither can SBA make the loan by itself because the Agency does not have any money to lend. Therefore it is paramount that all applicants positively approach the lender for a loan, and that they know the lenders criteria and requirements as well as those of the SBA. In order to obtain positive consideration for an SBA supported loan, the applicant must be both eligible and creditworthy.

What SBA Seeks In A Loan Application:

In order to get a 7a loan, the applicant must first be eligible. Repayment ability from the cash flow of the business is a primary consideration in the SBA loan decision process but good character, management capability, collateral, and owner's equity contribution are also important considerations. All owners of 20 percent or more are required to personally guarantee SBA loans.

Eligibility Criteria:

All applicants must be eligible to be considered for a 7a loan. The eligibility requirements are designed to be as broad as possible in order that this lending program can accommodate the most diverse variety of small business financing needs. All businesses that are considered for financing under SBA’s 7(a) loan program must: meet SBA size standards, be for-profit, not already have the internal resources (business or personal) to provide the financing, and be able to demonstrate repayment. Certain variations of SBA’s 7(a) loan program may also require additional eligibility criteria. Special purpose programs will identify those additional criteria.

Eligibility factors for all 7(a) loans include: size, type of business, use of proceeds, and the availability of funds from other sources. The following links will provide more detailed information on these eligibility issues.

Eligible And Ineligible Types Of Business
Use Of Proceeds
Availability Of Funds From Other Sources

Character Considerations:

SBA must determine if the principals of each applicant firm have historically shown the willingness and ability to pay their debts and whether they abided by the laws of their community. The Agency must know if there are any factors which impact on these issues. Therefore, a "Statement of Personal History" is obtained from each principal.

Other Aspects Of The Basic 7(a) Loan Program

In addition to credit and eligibility criteria, an applicant should be aware of the general types of terms and conditions they can expect if SBA is involved in the financial assistance. The specific terms of SBA loans are negotiated between an applicant and the participating financial institution, subject to the requirements of SBA. In general, the following provisions apply to all SBA 7(a) loans. However, certain Loan Programs or Lender Programs vary from these standards. These variations are indicated for each program.

Size - Maximum Loan Amounts

SBA's 7(a) Loan Program has a maximum loan amount of $2 million dollars. SBA's maximum exposure is $1.5 million. Thus, if a business receives an SBA guaranteed loan for $2 million, the maximum guaranty to the lender will be $1.5 million or 75 percent. SBA Express loans still have a maximum guaranty set at 50 percent

Types Of Business

The vast majority of businesses are eligible for financial assistance from the SBA. However, applicant businesses must operate for profit; be engaged in, or propose to do business in, the United States or its possessions; have reasonable owner equity to invest; and, use alternative financial resources first including personal assets. It should be noted that some businesses are ineligible for financial assistance.

Certain other considerations apply to the types of businesses and applicants eligible for SBA loan programs.

Use of Proceeds

7(a) loan proceeds may be used to establish a new business or to assist in the operation, acquisition or expansion of an existing business. These may include (non-exclusive):

  • To purchase land or buildings, to cover new construction as well as expansion or conversion of existing facilities;
  • To acquire equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies, or materials;
  • For long term working capital including the payment of accounts payable and/or for the purchase of inventory;
  • To refinance existing business indebtedness which is not already structured with reasonable terms and conditions;
  • For short term working capital needs including: seasonal financing, contract performance, construction financing, export production, and for financing against existing inventory and receivable under special conditions; or
  • To purchase an existing business.  

Ineligible use of Proceeds

There are certain restrictions for the use of SBA loans. The following is a list of purposes which SBA loans can not finance: 

  • 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 effect a partial change of business ownership or a change that will not benefit the business;
  • To permit the reimbursements of funds owed to any owner. This includes any equity injection, or injection of capital for the purposes of the businesses continuance until the loan supported by SBA is disbursed;
  • To repay delinquent state or federal withholding taxes or other funds that should be held in trust or escrow; and
  • For a non sound business purpose.


7a loans - Availability of Funds from other sources

The Federal Government does not extend credit to businesses where the financial strength of the individual owners or the company itself is sufficient to provide all or part of the financing. Therefore, the utilization of both the business and personal financial resources is reviewed as part of the eligibility criteria. If business and personal resources are found to be excessive, the business will be required to be use those resources in lieu of part or all of the requested loan proceeds.

New Changes to SBA 7a loans

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Recovery Act”) (P.L. 111-5).  Section 501 of the Recovery Act authorizes SBA to reduce or eliminate certain fees on 7(a) and 504 loans.  The purpose of this Notice is to announce the implementation of fee eliminations in the 7(a) Loan Program and the 504 Development Company Program.  A notice on this subject will also be published in the Federal Register.
Fee Eliminations
7(a) Loan Guarantee Fee Eliminations:  For 7(a) loans approved by SBA on or after February 17, 2009, SBA will temporarily eliminate the Small Business Act section 7(a)(18)(A) fees (upfront guaranty fees) for all eligible loans, including those made with higher SBA guarantees (up to 90%) as provided in section 502 of the Recovery Act.  For eligible loans approved between February 17, 2009 and the date of this notice, the Agency will make funds available to refund payments for these fees.  The Agency is developing a refund mechanism.  SBA expects to be able to begin issuing refunds by approximately May 1, 2009.  If borrowers have already paid lenders for the fee on eligible loans, lenders must reimburse the borrowers from the SBA refund.   

Consistent with the prioritization for fee eliminations or reductions in the Recovery Act, the on-going guaranty fee set forth in section 7(a)(23) of the Small Business Act will continue to apply.  In addition, SBA’s ¼ point guaranty fee set forth in 13 CFR 120.220(a) for loans with maturities of 12 months or less will continue to apply. 

SBA will eliminate upfront guaranty fees until the aggregate dollar amount of 7(a) loans made under this authority exhausts the funds dedicated to that purpose.  SBA currently estimates that program level will be approximately $8.7 billion.  Depending on loan volume in the 7(a) program, SBA estimates that it will be able to eliminate upfront guarantee fees on loans approved through approximately December 31, 2009. 
504 Development Company Program Fee Eliminations:  For eligible loans approved through the Agency’s section 504 Development Company Program on or after February 17, 2009, SBA will temporarily eliminate two program fees:

1) Third-Party Participation Fees (Small Business Investment Act Section 503(d)(2) fees codified at 13 CFR 120.972)

2) CDC Processing Fees (13 CFR Section 120.971(a)(1) fees).  Consistent with the Recovery Act’s temporary elimination of CDC Processing Fees, CDCs will no longer be allowed to collect deposits from small business applicants that would have gone towards payment of the CDC Processing Fee upon loan approval under 13 CFR 120.935.  SBA will reimburse the CDCs for the waived CDC Processing Fees.
SBA will pay CDCs two-thirds of the estimated CDC Processing Fee at the time of loan approval by SBA or upon the issuance of a loan number for a loan approved under the Premier Certified Lenders Program.  The remainder of the fee will be paid immediately following debenture funding and will be equal to 1.5% of net debenture proceeds for which a CDC does not collect the CDC Processing Fee, minus the amount previously paid.  If a borrower has already paid a CDC for the fee, the CDC must reimburse the borrower from the SBA refund. SBA will not permit CDCs to cancel loans approved by SBA prior to February 17th, 2009 and resubmit them in order to qualify for the reimbursement of the processing fee.  If the Participation Fee has already been paid to SBA on an eligible loan, SBA will refund the fee.   

SBA will eliminate the Participation Fee and the CDC Processing Fee until the aggregate dollar amount of 504 loans made under this authority exhausts the funds dedicated to that purpose.  SBA currently estimates that program level will be approximately $3.6 billion.  Depending on loan volume in the 504 program, SBA estimates that it will be able to eliminate these fees on loans approved through approximately December 31, 2009.

Prohibition on Use of Funds

Section 1604 of the Recovery Act states that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used by any State or local government, or any private entity, for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.  Further guidance will be issued on this subject in the near future.

For loans for these Recovery Act prohibited uses, lenders and CDCs may continue to submit applications in accordance with SOP 50 10 5(A) and all applicable fees will apply.

Additional Requirements

The provisions of the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act applicable to the 7(a) and 504 loan programs and the regulations promulgated thereunder will continue to apply to loans made under the Recovery Act.

Lenders, CDCs, and/or borrowers may be subject to additional reporting or recordkeeping requirements in connection with loans under the Recovery Act.