Defining the SBA 7(a) Loan Program
SBA 7(a) is a federal government guarantee of a small business loan. Although the loan itself comes from a private lender, owners who qualify for SBA 7(a) loans have a significant portion backed by the government, making it much easier for businesses with less access to capital or problems with credit to receive financing.
Loans of up to $5 million qualify under SBA 7(a), with the SBA providing a guarantee of up to $3.75 million, or 75%. For loans worth less than $150,000, the government will back up to 85% of the debt. To qualify under this program, borrowers must meet SBA standards of being a small business, not have defaulted on previous government loans, and demonstrate the ability to repay the loan.
While there is a prepayment penalty on loans that mature beyond 15 years, there's no prepayment penalty for shorter-term loans. SBA 7(a) doesn't have a balloon payment, and provides improved cash flow for the business. SBA 7(a)-backed loans can be used for various business purposes, including renovations, capital purchase, seasonal lines of credit, or refinancing of existing debt.