The Small Business Administration (SBA) does not issue direct loans, but it will offer loan guarantees to qualified borrowers. There are several SBA loan programs, and each program has separate maximum limits. The maximum amount of funding you can have guaranteed by the SBA depends on which loan program you qualify for, as well as your personal financial resources.
SBAExpress Loan Limits
This loan program is used to purchase initial capital or land in order to start a business. It is designed to expedite the process for a business owner who needs cash fast for the startup phase. The limit on an SBAExpress loan as of 2011 is $350,000. This limit may increase or decrease if public policy or funding access change.
SBA 7(a) Term Loan
This is the most commonly known of the SBA programs, because of its broad use. This can be used for any for-profit business in a wide array of industries, and it can be used for a startup as well as expansion. Since this loan is available to existing businesses, the SBA sets limits on the current profitability of those businesses in order to be eligible. As of 2011, the business cannot have a net worth over $15 million, or income over $5 million. The limit for this loan program can go up to $5 million, but the SBA will only guarantee $3.75 million of that total.
SBA 504 Term Loan
This loan program is designed for businesses who have been in business for some time, but are looking to expand. Like 7(a), this loan program is only available to businesses with a net worth under $15 million or income under $5 million. The loan limit is set at $6 million; but there are limits within this overall maximum, depending on the type of business you are operating.
SBA Patriot Express
This loan option is only available to members of the military or veterans who are looking to found or expand a business. The program maximum is set at $500,000, and must be paid off within seven years.
Personal Finance Requirements
All SBA loans require a personal guarantee, meaning your individual assets will be used as collateral on the loan. You may be required to provide a down payment of up to 20 percent, depending on the loan program of your choice. Your maximum loan limits, therefore, may be limited by your personal financial capabilities.