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Business loans for veterans
You served your country. Now let your country serve your business.
While veterans can qualify for the same types of financing as other business owners, you also might be eligible for reduced rates and fees if you’ve served your country. The most popular option is the Small Business Administration (SBA) Veterans Advantage loan, which you can use for working capital or expansion. But other options might be easier to qualify for.
3 lenders that support our veterans
- StreetShares: Best for Patriot Express SBA loan alternatives
- PNC bank: Best for SBA Veterans Advantage Express loans
- Liftfund: Best for microloans
Best for Patriot Express SBA loan alternatives: StreetShares Business Loans
Min. Credit Score
Veteran business owners can also access free training, find a mentor and even apply for grants through the StreetShares Foundation.
- Transparent about costs
- Excellent customer service
- Access to training for veterans
- High origination fee of 3.95% or 4.95%
- More expensive than an SBA loan
- Low maximum loan amount of $250,000
|Min. Loan Amount||$2,000|
|Max. Loan Amount||$250,000|
|APR||Starting at 8%|
|Interest Rate Type||Fixed|
|Min. Credit Score||640|
|Minimum Loan Term||3 months|
|Maximum Loan Term||36 months|
Best for SBA Veterans Advantage Express loans: PNC Bank business loans
Min. Credit Score
- SBA Preferred Lender
- No guarantee fee
- Variety of other financing options
- No specific information on costs
- Can't apply online
|Min. Loan Amount||$20,000|
|Max. Loan Amount||$100,000|
|APR||8.18% to 15.57%|
|Interest Rate Type||Variable|
|Minimum Loan Term||24 months|
|Maximum Loan Term||60 months|
Best for microloans: LiftFund business loans
Min. Credit Score
Its Women Veterans Entrepreneurship Program also offers training and workshops to former service members and their spouses. But it's only available in a select few states, and you have to apply in person to take advantage of these perks.
- Lower credit scores OK
- Excellent customer service
- Easy application
- Only available in 13 states
- Appointment required for veteran discount
|Min. Loan Amount||$500|
|Max. Loan Amount||$1,000,000|
|APR||Up to 18%|
|Interest Rate Type||Variable|
|Minimum Loan Term||60 months|
How we picked these lenders
After reviewing over 150 business loan providers, we selected these lenders based on cost, loan amounts and requirements. We favored lenders that offered products and additional resources specifically for veterans.
What types of business loans are available to veterans?
Veterans can qualify for any type of business financing, but you might want to consider loans specifically for veterans if you’ve served your country.
With these, you might be able to qualify for discounted rates and fees. And gaps in your personal and business financial history from active-duty stints won’t be held against you.
SBA Veterans Advantage loan
SBA Veterans Advantage loans — sometimes called VA loans — are essentially SBA Express Loans with no guarantee fee and a reduced 0.55% annual service fee. Through this program, the SBA backs up to 50% of loans up to $350,000 with rates capped at 10.75%. You’re responsible for backing the remaining half of the loan with collateral.
To qualify for the reduced fees, your business must be majority owned by veterans. You can apply through a bank, credit union or other lender that offers VA loans.
Can I still get a Patriot Express or Veterans Advantage 7(a) loan?
No, the SBA no longer offers Patriot Express or Veterans Advantage loans through the 7(a) program. But the standard SBA 7(a) loan program is still up and running — and might offer a better deal than you’d find elsewhere if you can qualify.
Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans (MREIDLs) are SBA disaster loans designed for businesses that have suffered because an owner was called to active duty. You can borrow up to $2 million at a 4% rate with terms up to 30 years.
To qualify, your business must have no other means to financially recover from the loss of revenue due to your active-duty status. And you can only apply up to a year after returning from active duty.
Unlike other SBA loans, the Small Business Administration fully funds these loans. You can apply online through the SBA Disaster Assistance website.
Online loans for veterans
Some online providers like StreetShares specialize in financing for veterans who can’t qualify for SBA funding. Online lenders tend to focus on factors beyond your personal credit score and business revenue to offer a better deal.
While online rates and fees are often higher than SBA or bank loans, you can access a wider range of financing and get your money as soon as the next business day.
Veteran franchise financing
Several corporations like UPS and 7-Eleven offer special financing options for veterans who want to open a franchise. With 7-Eleven, for example, you can get a significantly reduced franchising fee and unique financing options that are only available to veterans.
Microloans for veterans
Your business can also apply for highly discounted financing with nonprofits like the Veteran Business Fund. These loans typically can’t cover all of your business’s financing needs, but they can come with interest as low as 0%. Nonprofits sometimes also offer help in getting additional financing from the SBA and other veteran-friendly lenders.
Want more options? The Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is one of the most prominent federal resources available.
Does the VA offer business loans for veterans?
No, the VA doesn’t offer business funding for veterans. VA business loans typically refer to the Veterans Advantage SBA loan program — which happens to share initials with the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Who’s eligible for an SBA Veterans Advantage Express loan?
Your business must be at least 51% owned by the following types of owners to qualify for an SBA Veterans Advantage business loan:
- Veteran who wasn’t dishonorably discharged
- Service-disabled veteran
- Reservist or member of the National Guard
- Active-duty service member participating in the Transition Assistance Program
- Current spouse of an eligible service member, veteran or any active-duty service member
- Widowed spouse of a service member who died in service or of a service-related injury
On top of this, your business must also meet the basic requirements for an SBA 7(a) loan.
Find other business lenders that support our troops
What other resources are available for veterans?
Several government and private organizations offer resources for veteran-owned companies, ranging from grants to training programs.
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program. The SBA sets aside 3% of government contracts as part of the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program.
- VetToCEO. Training specifically designed to help former service members navigate the process of setting up and operating a business.
- Global Good Fund. A leadership development program that pairs veterans with coaches and mentors, and helps them access funding.
- Boots to Business. An intensive training program that gives veterans the fundamentals of starting a business, run by the SBA as part of the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program.
- Veterans Business Outreach Center. This SBA organization runs a variety of specialized business courses for veterans, like how to write a business plan.
- Dog Tag Inc. A five-month fellowship program for veterans with service-connected disabilities and their spouses that gives you first-hand experience operating a business.
- USDA Veteran and Minority Farmers Grant. Each year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets aside funds for veteran and minority farmers through the 2501 Program. Generally, you must be involved in a nonprofit or community-based organization to qualify.
- Franchise discounts. If you’re thinking of opening a franchise, ask if the company offers a discount on the fee — many like UPS, Little Caesars and 7-Eleven do.
- Private grants. Companies like StreetShares offer grants to veteran-owned small businesses.
- Grants.gov. A tool you can use to search for a federal grant specifically for veterans.
- Local government grants. Your state and local government might offer funding for veteran business owners. Reach out to your local Department of Small Business Services to learn about your options.
How to apply for a VA business loan
While the application process varies depending on the lender, you’ll generally follow these steps to apply for an SBA Veterans Advantage loan:
- Make sure you qualify. Double-check all of the VA business loan and SBA 7(a) requirements to make sure your business meets the basic standards. If not, consider another option.
- Compare lenders. Look for lenders in your area that offer the Veterans Advantage loan. You might have to call to get a range of rates and find out if there are any additional requirements, like credit score minimums.
- Prequalify, if possible. Once you narrow down your list, reach out to a few lenders with specifics about your business to get a quote.
- Fill out the application. Work with the lender to complete the application and any required forms.
- Submit your documents. Follow the lender’s directions to submit all required documents for your application.
- Wait for SBA approval. Unless you’re working with an SBA Preferred Lender, you’ll have to wait for the SBA to approve the application before the lender.
- Sign the loan documents. If you’re approved by the SBA and your lender, sign the documents agreeing to the terms and conditions of your new loan.
What documents do I need?
Each lender will require slightly different information, but here’s a quick guide to the minimum documentation you need to apply:
- Business tax returns
- Financial statements for your business for the past two years
- Balance sheet for your business for the past two years
- Lease agreements
- Proof of business ownership
- Business asset transactions
- State filings
- Personal financial information
- Detailed long-term business plan
- Presentation that includes your business plan and statement of need
Whether starting a business or expanding your existing one, you can find opportunities that support veterans and military personnel with the financial support and capital you deserve. You can learn more about how business loans work and find even more lenders with our guide.
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