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SBA Loan Finder

Get lower rates with this government-backed program — if you can qualify.

Compare SBA loans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program is one of the most popular types of business financing — and for good reason. Thanks to government backing, they come with some of the lowest rates out there.

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Lendio business loans
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Lendio business loans
$500
$5,000,000
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Fora Financial business loans
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Fora Financial business loans
$5,000
$750,000
12+ months in business, $15,000+ gross monthly sales, no open bankruptcies
Get qualified for funding in minutes for up to $750,000 without affecting your credit score. Best for companies with at least six figures in annual revenue.
ROK Financial business loans
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ROK Financial business loans
$10,000
$5,000,000
Eligibility criteria 1+ year in business, $15,000+ in monthly gross sales or $180,000+ in annual sales
Apply for up to $5 million with a 15-second online application. Choose your best offer and get funded as soon as the same day.
Big Think Capital
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Big Think Capital
$10,000
$5,500,000
600+ credit score, 2 years in business, $100,000 annual revenue
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The Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program is one of the most popular types of business financing — and for good reason. Thanks to government backing, they come with some of the lowest rates out there. But the strict eligibility requirements and long application also make them difficult to get.

What is an SBA loan?

An SBA loan is a small business loan that’s backed by the government. If your business can’t repay the loan, the government will cover up to 85% of the cost. This makes it easier for small businesses to qualify for funding.

The SBA also sets caps on loan amounts, interest, fees, requirements and terms, making it a low-cost option for small businesses. Here’s how SBA loans generally work:

  • Loan amounts: $50,000 to $5.5 million
  • Loan terms: Up to 25 years
  • Interest rates: Up to 11%
  • Guarantee fee: 0% to 3.75%
  • Turnaround time: 2 weeks to over 3 months

How to qualify for an SBA loan

You can generally qualify for an SBA loan if your business:

Additional criteria might apply depending on the program and lender. Make sure your business meets all criteria by reading our guide to SBA loan requirements.

How much can I borrow with an SBA loan?

You may be able to borrow as little as $500 up to $5 million — it all depends on the type of SBA loan you’re interested in. How much you qualify for will also depend on your personal and business credit scores, annual revenue, the collateral you have available, and your business’s current debts.

Quickly compare SBA loan programs

There are multiple SBA loans. Compare loan amounts, uses and rates side-by-side to help narrow down the one you need for your business.

SBA loan typeMaximum loan amountRatesUsesSBA guarantee fee
SBA 7(a) loans$5 millionUp to 9.5%Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion.0.25% to 3.75%
SBA Express loans$350,000Up to 11.25%Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion.Up to 3%
SBA 504 loans$5.5 millionCDC portion: Typically 3% to 4%
Bank portion: 11%
Real estate and equipment.0.5%
SBA CAPLine$5 millionUp to 9.5%Working capital, filling a contract, real estate, construction.0.25% to 3.75%
SBA microloans$50,0007.75% to 8% above lender's cost to fundWorking capital, equipment, supplies and other startup costs.None
SBA Community Advantage loans$350,000Prime + 6%Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion.0.25% to 3.75%
SBA disaster loans$2 million4% to 8%Covering costs of rebuilding after a natural disaster that insurance doesn't cover, economic loss if an employee is called on active military duty.None
SBA 7(a) Small Loans$350,000Up to 9.5%Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion0.25% to 3.75%
SBA International Trade$5 millionUp to 9.5%General-use financing for businesses actively involved in international trade or hurt by competition from imports.3.5% to 3.75%
SBA Export Working Capital Program$5 millionNo SBA rate capShort-term working capital for exporters backed by invoices or other business assets.3.5% to 3.75%

What types of SBA loans are available?

Choose from one of these 7 SBA most popular loan programs:

SBA 7(a) loans

  • Maximum amount: $5 million
  • Maximum interest rate: 9.5%
  • Terms: 5 to 25 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: 75% to 85%
  • SBA guarantee fee: 0.25% to 3.75%
  • Uses: Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion

The SBA 7(a) loan program is by far the most popular. While it’s easier to find lenders that offer them, they’re also more competitive.

The standard 7(a) loan doesn’t have any additional eligibility requirements, though your lender might. You might have to back your loan with collateral, depending on how much you borrow. And you’ll also need to provide a personal guarantee and down payment of around 20%.

SBA Express loans

  • Maximum amount: $350,000
  • Maximum interest rate: 11.25%
  • Terms: 5 to 25 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: 50%
  • SBA guarantee fee: Up to 3%
  • Uses: Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion.

SBA Express loans are a smaller version of standard 7(a) loans that you can get fast — the SBA takes just 36 hours to give a decision. It also has a reduced amount of paperwork, making it a better choice for businesses that don’t have months to wait for financing. Use the funds for just about any purpose, including working capital and real estate.

The SBA also offers an Export Express loan of up to $500,000 for small businesses involved in international trade. Rates and terms are the same. However, the SBA guarantees up to 90% of Export Express loans and can process the application in as fast as 24 hours.

SBA 504 loans

  • Maximum amount: $5.5 million
  • Maximum interest rate:
    • CDC portion: Typically 3% to 4%
    • Bank portion: 11%
  • Terms: 10 to 25 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: 30% to 40%
  • SBA guarantee fee: 0.5%
  • Uses: Real estate and equipment

Also known as 504/CDC loans, this program is specifically for businesses looking to expand. It works a little differently than your typical SBA loan because they actually come from two lenders: a community development corporation (CDC) and a third-party lender (often a bank).

  • CDC loan. Ranges from 30% to 40% of the project and is entirely backed by the SBA.
  • Third-party loan. Isn’t backed by the SBA and must be at least 50% of the project cost.

It also has additional eligibility requirements and size standards. This program is only open to established businesses, so startups need to look elsewhere.

SBA CAPLine

  • Maximum amount: $5 million
  • Maximum interest rate: 9.5%
  • Terms: 5 to 10 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: 75% to 85%
  • SBA guarantee fee: 0.25% to 3.75%
  • Uses: Working capital, filling a contract, real estate, construction

The SBA CAPLine program offers both revolving and fixed lines of credit to small businesses. It works a lot like a 7(a) loan when it comes to rates, terms and fees. However, there are four CAPLine programs that restrict how you can use your funds and who qualifies:

  • Seasonal CAPLines. Financing to prepare for a seasonal increase in sales.
  • Contract CAPlines. Funding to fill a contract.
  • Builder’s CAPLines. Financing for a real estate or construction project.
  • Working Capital CAPLines. Financing for businesses that are struggling with a short-term slump in sales.

SBA microloans

  • Maximum amount: $50,000
  • Maximum interest rate: 7.75% to 8% above lender’s cost to fund
  • Terms: Up to 6 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: None
  • Guarantee fee: None
  • Uses: Working capital, equipment, supplies and other startup costs — except real estate; some lenders also offer debt refinancing

The SBA microloan program is designed to offer startup funding and support to small businesses. It particularly focuses on women, low-income, veteran and minority entrepreneurs.

Unlike other SBA programs, there’s no guarantee. Instead, the SBA lends money to nonprofit lenders at a discounted rate, which they pass on to borrowers. These loans are often found at community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and microlenders.

SBA Community Advantage loans

  • Maximum amount: $350,000
  • Maximum interest rate: Prime + 6%
  • Terms: Up to 25 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: 75% to 85%
  • SBA guarantee fee: 0.25% to 3.75%
  • Uses: Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion

The SBA Community Advantage program is a pilot set to either expire or get extended by September 30, 2024. Its aim is to promote economic growth in underserved areas and markets. Community Advantage lenders tend to overlook factors like poor credit or low revenue as long as your business benefits an underserved area.

These loans are only available through mission-driven lenders like CDCs and CDFIs. To find a lender near you, reach out to your local SBA office.

SBA disaster loans

  • Maximum amount: $2 million
  • Maximum interest rate: 4% — or 8% for businesses that can find funding elsewhere
  • Terms: Up to 30 years
  • Uses: Covering costs of rebuilding after a natural disaster that insurance doesn’t cover, economic loss if an employee is called on active military duty

The SBA disaster loan program is unique in a few ways: It’s the only loan program that the SBA directly funds, and it’s available to both business and homeowners. It’s designed to help people recovering from a natural disaster like a hurricane or flood, and also provides funding for businesses that employ military reservists on active duty. You can apply for a disaster loan through the SBA website.

SBA 7(a) Small Loans

  • Maximum amount: $350,000
  • Maximum interest rate: 9.5%
  • Terms: 5 to 25 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: 75% to 85%
  • SBA guarantee fee: 0.25% to 3.75%
  • Uses: Working capital, refinancing debt, equipment, fixtures, renovations, inventory, starting a business, buying land or buildings, construction, expansion.

The SBA 7(a) small loans program is similar to the larger 7(a) program, but it comes with a lower maximum amount at $350,000. If you’re aiming for the SBA 7(a) loan to avoid putting up some collateral, just know that for small loans up to $25,000, lenders don’t have to take collateral — but anything higher and the lender must follow collateral procedures.

SBA International Trade

  • Maximum amount: $5 million
  • Maximum interest rate: 9.5%
  • Terms: Up to 25 years
  • Percentage guaranteed: 90%
  • SBA guarantee fee: 3.5% to 3.75%
  • Uses: General-use financing for businesses actively involved in international trade or hurt by competition from imports.

The SBA International Trade is for general-use financing for businesses actively involved in international trade or hurt by competition from imports. The maximum amount is $5 million, and the rate can reach up to 9.5% — however you can negotiate with the lender for a lower rate.

SBA Export Working Capital Program

  • Maximum amount: $5 million
  • Maximum interest rate: No SBA rate cap
  • Terms: 12 months or less
  • Percentage guaranteed: 90%
  • SBA guarantee fee: 3.5% to 3.75%
  • Uses: Short-term working capital for exporters backed by invoices or other business assets.

The SBA Export Working Capital Program is made for businesses that generate export sales but need some extra capital. The line of credit lasts for 12 months or less, and has a typical turnaround time of five to 10 business days. However, there is no maximum rate unlike the other SBA programs, so watch out for that.

How to choose the right program

Find the right program for your business by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I need the loan for? Look for a program that specializes in your funding needs — like a 504 loan for real estate and CAPLines for seasonal working capital.
  • How much do I need to borrow? Different programs specialize in different funding amounts. Look for one with a maximum that fits your range.
  • How quickly do I need the funds? Small-dollar loan programs often have a faster turnaround.
  • How much can my business afford to pay each month? Use our SBA loan calculator to make sure a program’s loan amounts, interest and terms fit your budget.
  • Can I qualify? Make sure your program doesn’t have any additional requirements that you don’t meet.

Where can I get an SBA loan?

Generally, you can get an SBA loan from any type of lender. However, you might want to work with a certified or preferred lender, which both offer a more streamlined application process.

Certified lenders

Lenders that participate in the SBA’s Certified Lender Program (CLP) have some experience and meet certain SBA standards.

The SBA expedites applications from certified lenders by reviewing its credit decision rather than underwriting the loan itself. For a 7(a) loan, this means cutting the underwriting process down to three days instead of the standard five to 10 business days.

Preferred lenders

Lenders that participate in the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program (PLP) have the most experience working with the SBA and meet even more rigorous standards than certified lenders.

Preferred lenders have the authority to underwrite and set eligibility standards without having the SBA review the application. For 7(a) loans, the SBA can give approval in as fast as 24 hours.

Lenders for special financing programs

A few SBA programs only offer financing through specific types of lenders:

  • SBA 504 loans. You must apply through a bank or online lender and a certified development company (CDC).
  • SBA Community Advantage and microloans. These are only available through a community-based lender like a local bank, credit union or CDFI.

Not sure where to start? Try a connection service

Connection services can help you find an SBA preferred lender that your business can qualify with if you don’t know where to go first. Some like SmartBiz also provide loan packaging services to cut down on even more of the time it takes to apply for a loan.

6 steps to apply for an SBA loan

Follow these steps to apply for an SBA loan:

  1. Check if you qualify. Make sure you meet all the basic SBA requirements.
  2. Choose a program. Look for a program that fits your budget and offers the funding you need to cover your costs.
  3. Compare lenders. Preferred and certified lenders offer the fastest turnaround, but compare all options to make sure you find the right fit.
  4. Compile your paperwork. Coordinate with your lender to figure out what documents you need to provide.
  5. Complete the application. Fill out the application form that your lender provides.
  6. Complete additional forms. The SBA requires borrowers to fill out several forms that provide details about personal assets, criminal records and more.

What documents do I need to apply?

Prepare to submit all or some of these documents when you apply for an SBA loan:

  • A detailed list of how your business will use the loan
  • Financial projections for the next one to three years
  • Cashflow statement
  • Current profit and loss (P&L) statement
  • Current balance sheet
  • Two years of business tax returns
  • Two years of owner tax returns
  • Owner financial statements
  • Owner resumes
  • Business plan – including an overview and history
  • Proof of ownership
  • Business licenses and leases
  • Business debt schedule
  • Information about other businesses you own

SBA loan forms

You might need to submit some or all of the following forms:

What happens if I default on an SBA loan?

There are several steps leading up to a default on an SBA loan, involving both your lender and the government. That’s because the SBA doesn’t actually issue your loan, but backs it up to 85%. This means that the SBA covers up to 85% of the amount you borrowed when you default. But it’s not as straightforward as it might sound.

Each lender has different procedures it follows when an SBA borrower defaults. Here’s what you might expect to happen.

1. The lender sends a notice

The first step most lenders take is to reach out after you’ve missed a few payments. Typically, you’ll receive a letter or phone call letting you know that your repayments are overdue.

Many lenders are willing to work with businesses to prevent you from defaulting at this stage. They might work with you to renegotiate your repayment plan. Some could even offer interest-only repayments for a few months if it looks like your business is experiencing a temporary loss of profits.

The default process ends here if you’re able to reach an agreement with your lender. Otherwise, it starts the collections process.

2. The lender seizes collateral

The SBA isn’t the only one securing the loan. If you backed your loan with collateral, your lender takes steps to collect that first. If your collateral doesn’t cover the amount your business owes, your lender could force your business to close and sell off anything of value.

It can also typically withdraw money from the bank account linked to your loan account to cover overdue repayments. Or, it can get a judgment from a court allowing it to withdraw from your business accounts at other banks.

3. The lender goes after your assets

Since the SBA requires a personal guarantee from business owners with more than a 20% stake in the company, the lender could come after your personal assets next. Typically, it sends a letter to all guarantors asking for repayment. If the guarantors don’t respond, the lender could file a lawsuit.

So what happens when the lender goes after your assets? If your home was part of your personal guarantee, it could seize that property — though it might decide it’s not worth it if you’re still paying off a mortgage or home equity loan. You could also lose other assets like your retirement and bank accounts.

4. The SBA requests an offer in compromise

When your business and guarantors aren’t able to repay the full amount, your lender turns to the SBA to get funds to cover their guaranteed part of the loan. At this point, the SBA pays off your lender and takes over the collections process. Typically, the SBA sends you a letter demanding payment or an offer in compromise (OIC) within 60 days.

Submitting an OIC involves filling out a form proposing to settle any debt for a lower amount than you originally owe. You must offer proof that you’re able to repay the settlement amount and include a complete list of your assets and debts. Your lender then reviews your OIC and submits it to the SBA. Both must agree to the terms.

If the SBA accepts your OIC, you can pay off the settlement amount. Otherwise, you could submit another request. If not, the SBA turns your case over to the US Treasury Department.

5. The US Treasury Department takes over collections

The US Treasury Department can take more extreme measures to collect the amount you owe once it takes over your case. That’s because there’s no legal limitations to how long they can collect funds, and they don’t need a judgment. They might garnish your wages, take away your Social Security and other retirement benefits or withhold your tax refunds until your loan is paid off.

How do I know when my SBA loan is in trouble?

If you’re only a few days late on your loan repayment, you probably don’t need to worry. Typically, lenders have a grace period of 10 to 15 days before they start charging late payment fees.

Different lenders have different policies, however. Review your loan contract to find out when late fees apply and when it considers your loan in default.

SBA loan alternatives

Not sure you can qualify? Need funding fast? Consider one of these alternatives:

  • Bank loans. Banks tend to offer similar rates and loan amounts as an SBA loan. While they often have tough revenue and credit requirements, they aren’t as strict as the SBA.
  • Online loans. Online lenders can get you money in a matter of days, often with minimal paperwork. But they tend to come with higher rates.
  • Microloans. If you’re looking to finance a startup, it might be easier to qualify for a small-dollar loan with a microlender.
  • CDFI loans. CDFIs tend to offer more competitive rates to small businesses that might not otherwise qualify for funding.
  • USDA loans. If you’re in agriculture or operate in a rural area, the USDA might offer funding more suited to your needs

Bottom line

It’s hard to beat SBA loan rates and terms. But make sure you have the time to apply and meet the eligibility requirements.

Get started on your search for an SBA loan by checking out our list of the best SBA lenders. Or, research your other options with our guide to business loans.

Frequently asked questions

Answers to commonly asked questions about SBA loans.

What's an SBA guarantee?

An SBA guarantee is the government’s legal promise to cover part of the loan if your business defaults. Generally, the SBA guarantees between 75% and 85% of SBA loans, though it depends on the program and how much you borrow. Business owners that have more than a 20% stake in the company are required to back the rest of the loan with a personal guarantee or collateral.

What are the SBA loan rates?

SBA loan providers charge different rates depending on the specific program, loan amount and repayment term. Read our SBA loan rates guide to find the latest rates.

How hard is it to get an SBA loan?

SBA loans are actually some of the most difficult types of financing to qualify for. Only 54% of SBA applications were approved in 2017, according to a Federal Reserve survey. This could be because SBA loans consider far more factors than traditional business lenders, including the arrest records of business owners with more than a 20% stake in the company.

How long does it take to get an SBA loan?

How long it takes to get an SBA loan depends on several factors, including your lender and loan type. Most borrowers can expect to spend at least 30 days on the application from start to finish. However, it can take as little as a few weeks if you use a service like SmartBiz.

Why is there more paperwork involved with an SBA loan?

There’s more paperwork because SBA loans are from the government and therefore sponsored by tax dollars. Extra regulations lead to extra paperwork and qualifications.

Read more on this topic

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