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What Is the SBA Guarantee Fee?

What Is the SBA Guarantee Fee?
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated June 5, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
When you’re taking out any kind of financing, it’s important to be aware of any and all fees you might be required to pay, in addition to the interest you’ll be paying on the loan over time. Some loans have hefty fees attached, and if you’re not aware of them, you may end up paying more than you anticipate.Even loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) have some fees. These can add to the total cost of borrowing money to grow your business. Before taking out SBA funding like a 504 or 7(a) loan, research all the SBA loan information that will impact what you pay for the loan, including the fee we’ll discuss here: the SBA guarantee fee (or guaranty fee, as the SBA spells it).

SBA Guarantee Fee Defined

Just like when you apply for a small business loan with an online lender or a bank and are charged an origination fee to cover administrative costs, the SBA charges a similar fee.Called the SBA guarantee fee, it is designed to help pay for the SBA’s financial assistance programs. This fee may be less than a bank’s origination fee, which can be a flat fee or up to around 3% to 5% of the loan value. The good news is that the lender you apply for the SBA loan can’t charge a loan origination fee in addition to this SBA guarantee fee. However, it can charge “packaging fees” that are reasonable and similar to those charged for non-SBA loans.

What Does the SBA Guarantee Fee Do?

In addition to paying for administrative costs, the SBA loan guarantee may also cover the cost of defaulted loans. Because the SBA guarantees a certain percentage of each loan it backs, if the borrower stops paying the loan, the SBA will pay the lender up to that percent.For the 7(a) program, the SBA guarantees 85% of loans up to $150,000. So if a borrower stops paying on a $100,000 loan, the SBA pays the remainder, up to $85,000 (whatever was still owed after the default).The SBA guarantee fee helps cover this expense.

Who Pays the SBA Guarantee Fee?

With many government programs, the taxpayers pay for them through taxes, but the SBA guarantee fee is different. Rather than putting the burden of the cost of running SBA programs on taxpayers, the SBA requires the borrowers to pay for it with each loan they take out.Typically, this fee will be taken out of the loan proceeds you receive, so be aware that if, for example, you’re borrowing $100,000, you’ll receive less than that after the guarantee fee and any lender fees are subtracted.

How Much Does the SBA Guarantee Fee Cost?

Some SBA loan programs charge a guarantee fee based on the amount you borrow. A few programs don’t charge them at all. Typically, the shorter the repayment period, the lower the guarantee fee.For the 7(a) loan, the fee is charged on the guaranteed portion of the loan only. For $150,001-$700,000, it is 3.0%; For $700,000- $1,000,000, it is 3.5%; plus 3.75% on guaranty portion over $1 million.  The 7(a) small loans and SBA Advantage loans have the same percentages. The SBA Veterans Advantage has no guaranty.

SBA Guarantee Fee Examples

Now let’s look at a few examples to give you an idea of what you might pay in guarantee fees.Let’s say you plan to take out a 7(a) loan of $900,000. Your fee would be 3.5%, making it $31,500. If you’re interested in the Export Working Capital Program and borrow $1 million that you’ll pay back in 12 months, you’d pay .25%, or $2,500. If you took 36 months to pay it back, your fee would jump up to .80%, or $8,000.You can see how even a small increase in percentage can result in a much larger fee, depending on how much you want to borrow and how quickly you can pay it back.Recommended: Applying for & Getting Small Business Loans

Do You Qualify for a Reduced SBA Guarantee Fee?

There may be an opportunity for you to get a reduced SBA guarantee fee if your business is located in a rural area or HUBZone (a historically-underutilized business zone). You can see if your business is located in a HUBZone using this mapping tool.

Is the SBA Guarantee Fee Tax Deductible?

There are some important tax considerations to be aware of with SBA loans. The first is that you aren’t taxed on any loan you take out. Also, the interest you pay when repaying SBA loans may be tax deductible.And while the guarantee fee isn’t tax deductible, you may be eligible for a state credit, depending on where your business operates.Recommended: Are Business Loans Considered Income?

Other Loan Fees to Be Aware Of

Earlier, we mentioned that the lender can still charge you other “packaging fees” in addition to the SBA guarantee fee. There may be other fees for you to consider as well.If you make a late payment, you may be charged a fee, and if your account doesn’t have sufficient funds to make your monthly payment, you may be charged another fee.Some banks may even charge you if you pay your loan off early, so read the fine print before signing your loan agreement. Note if there are any prepayment penalties so you're aware of what you’ll be paying.Recommended: What Are Common Small Business Loan Terms?

Lantern Small Business Loans

The SBA offers a variety of low-interest loans, and even with the guarantee fee, you may end up spending the least on an SBA loan compared to all your other financing options.Nonetheless, it’s helpful to know what all your choices are so you can make an educated comparison. Discover all the options you have with Lantern by SoFi. Input a few details and get a loan offer in minutes! 

The Takeaway

If you’re taking out an SBA loan, you may have to pay an SBA guarantee fee, as well as other fees. Knowing what to expect upfront can go a long way toward helping you keep your funding manageable and your expectations realistic. Be sure that you understand this or any small business funding you apply for in detail before you sign.
Photo credit: iStock/visualspace

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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