What You Need to Know about Loans for Veterans
There are many loan programs or other financing options for veteran entrepreneurs with small businesses, through government sponsored loans, online lenders, or other financial institutions. There are a few different programs for loans for veterans that you may wish to consider to find the best fit. There are also some very helpful funding options for those whose military service left them with a physical disability.
What are the Best Places for Loans for Veterans?
Typically lenders are looking for one of the following when considering the eligibility for VA business loans. The business must be owned by a majority holding veteran, an honorably discharged veteran, a service-disabled veteran, an active-duty military member utilizing the military Transition Assistance Program, a reservist or National Guard member. Additionally, the spouse of any of the above categories complies with most VA loan practices. Additionally, the spouse may be widowed by a service member who died in the line of duty from injuries sustained from their service.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans
Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans (MREIDL)
This loans for veterans program is run by The U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA, and is offered through banks providing up to $2 million to veteran business owners. This loan is specifically intended for veteran small business owners (or essential employees) that are unable to meet their operating expenses due to active military duty responsibilities. This loan covers those expenses until the owner or essential employee returns. This SBA loan has fairly low-interest rates, currently at about 4%, with repayment terms of up to 30 years. However, this loan also needs collateral for amounts of over $50,000.
SBA 7(a) Loans (Veterans Advantage)
This is a very popular small business loan that is open to both veterans and non-veterans, which offers up to $5 million to cover a variety of business needs. The repayment term for this type of loan is up to 25 years with an interest rate around XXXX. The SBA Veterans Advantage Program waives the upfront guarantee fee for veterans on SBA 7(a) loans of $125,000 or less and decreases the upfront fee on loans between $125,000 and $350,000 by 50%. There is also counseling and training to qualified borrowers for veterans through the SBA.
SBA Express Loans
These loans are a subprogram within the SBA 7(a) loan where loans are offered with quick approval times for up to $350,000. Veterans have a Veterans Advantage program within the SBA Express loan, which waives the upfront fee for veterans who qualify.
VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)
While this isn’t exactly a veteran loan or an extension of credit, this department still provides aid in another way to veteran-owned small businesses. The Department of Veterans Affairs assists economically disadvantaged individuals and their small businesses through their Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Program. The goal of the OSDBU is to provide these business with as many government contracts as possible. This helps provide a steady stream of income for these businesses which can be just as helpful as a loan if used correctly.
Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
This is very similar to the OSDBU program, this program provides certain veterran owned businesses with contracts. The United States federal government sets aside about 3% of their contracting budget for small businesses owned by disabled veterans.
Veterans Business Fund
The Veterans Business Fund (VBF) is a new resource for veterans who are seeking capital to open a new small business of franchise or purchase an existing one. This loan sources its money from a nonprofit, requiring donors to provide the funding, however, this loan is also non-interest bearing to the extent permitted by the laws where it is being used. Unfortunately, veterans will not be able to finance the entirety of their business using the VBF due to the fact that the program offers loans in conjunction with the business owner’s personal equity. Traditionally, the applicant must extend 50% of their own funds for this loan, where the VBF matches it. The application period is entirely dependent on VBFs fundraising efforts.
This online lender gives a variety of different types of small business loans and business lines of credit. A large portion of StreetShares’ loans go towards veteran-owned firms. These loans provide capital very quickly. This could be considered an express loan program, with a 10-minute application process and little need for lengthy documentation. The minimum eligibility to securing a loan or business line of credit here is one year in business, a credit score of 600, and $25,000 in annual revenue.
Hivers and Strivers Angel Fund
This firm invests in early-stage ventures that are founded by individuals who’ve graduated from the US Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, or Merchant Marine Academy. Hivers and Strivers typically give between $250,000 and $1,000,000 in each financing round. This firm will also offer training programs through guidance and support to help their investee companies grow, in exchange for equity.
VA VR&E Business Ownership Track
This financial assistance can be utilized if you have a disability from service-related tragedies and plan to run your own business. This assistance from the Vocational Rehab & Employment Ownership is provided when you have a barrier to employment or handicap that is service related and makes it difficult to find suitable employment. The VA VR&E Business Ownership Track helps with coordination services and help with developing a proposed business plan through analyzing your business plan, small business operations training, and general guidance.
Best for Startups
While most traditional lenders will prefer to partner with businesses that have strong cash flow and are well established, one workaround for startups (less than a year of operating history and little revenue) is to use a business credit card or personal business loan.
Both of these options are dependent on your personal credit score, and are also unsecured, meaning you won’t have to put down an asset like your house or inventory to qualify to receive the loan.
When considering loans for veterans, there are many options for former military entrepreneurs when it comes to financing their small business. The type of financing that you choose should be influenced by where you are lacking capital within your business. If producing revenue or finding new clients is an issue, there are government programs that allot contracts to veteran-owned businesses. If a loan is more suitable for your financial needs, there are many lenders, both brick-and-mortar and online, that help out those who were in the armed services. There are even angel investors that will give funding to veteran-owned businesses that will advise for equity. Whatever your needs are, there is almost always a funding source that should be able to fit it.