Does the VA Offer Small Business Loans for Veterans?
The VA does not guaranty or offer small business loans for veterans. VA-eligible borrowers do get special fee waivers and discounts on Small Business Administration (SBA) loans; however, at least through December 31, 2015. The Small Business Administration does not actually lend money to veterans. However, it partially insures these loans, reducing the risk to lenders and opening up more financing opportunities for veterans.
SBA Veterans Advantage
The Veterans Advantage plan, which was set to expire in 2014 but was extended to the end of 2015, is an offshoot of the popular SBA Express loan. It allows eligible veterans to borrow up to $350,000 with no guaranty fee. Ordinarily, the guaranty fee for SBA Express loans from $150,001 to $350,000 is three percent. For veterans who select a non-SBA Express loan over $150,000, their guaranty fee is reduced by 50 percent.
Qualifying for an SBA Loan
Applying for a Veterans Advantage SBA Express loan is relatively simple, and underwriting decisions come back quickly – usually within 36 hours of application. In addition to the guaranty fee waiver, there are additional benefits:
- For loans up to $25,000, no collateral is required.
- Interest rates typically run 2.75 percent over the Prime Rate.
- Flexibility allows borrowers to use funding for start-up costs, equipment, expansion, inventory, real estate, working capital and more.
The business receiving funding must be owned at least 51 percent by one or more borrowers who meet at least one of the criteria listed below:
- Veteran not dishonorably discharged
- Service-disabled veteran
- Transitioning active-duty military member
- Reservist or National Guard member
- Current spouse or widow of a service member who meets one of the above-listed criteria.
Not all types of businesses are eligible for financing though this program. Ineligible businesses include real estate investment, gambling, rare coin dealership and pyramid sales schemes.
Applying for a Loan
Applicants for small business loans for veterans should be prepared to provide:
- SBA Loan Application
- Personal Background and Financial Statement
- Statement of Personal History – SBA Form 912
- Personal Financial Statement – SBA Form 413
- Business Financial Statements
- Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement – This must be current within 90 days of your application.
- Projected Financial Statements – Include a detailed, one-year projection of income and finances and attach a written explanation detailing plans for achieving it.
- Ownership and Affiliations – A list of names and addresses of businesses the applicant has ownership of or involvement in.
- Business Certificate/License – Original business license or certificate of doing business with corporate seal if applicable.
- Loan Application History – Include records of any loans previously applied for.
- Income Tax Returns – Include signed personal and business federal income tax returns for previous three years.
- Résumés – Include personal résumés for each principal.
- Business Overview and History – Provide a brief history of the business and its challenges. Include an explanation of why the SBA loan is needed and how it will help the business.
- Business Lease – copy of business lease, or note landlord giving terms of proposed lease.
Purchasing an Existing Business
Applicants planning on purchasing an existing business must provide the following documents from the business:
- Current balance sheet and P&L statement
- Previous two years federal income tax returns
- Proposed Bill of Sale including Terms of Sale
- Asking price with schedule of inventory, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures
The SBA does not set out underwriting guidelines for these; in most cases, the agency directs the lenders to use their own application forms and underwriting guidelines. This is a really important point for borrowers! It means that if a veteran has been turned down for a loan with one lender, it does not mean that he or she can’t qualify for an SBA loan. It means that the veteran should contact more lenders and compare what they have to offer.