The SBA’s “Express” loan program has been growing and is expected to become the most popular form of SBA loan this year. Express SBA loans totaled 49% of all SBA loans in fiscal year 2003 (ending September 30th), up from 34% in 2002 and 27% in 2001, according to the SBA.
Express loans have less stringent criteria than traditional SBA 7(a) loans. Usually documentation requirements are lower and loans can be closed faster.
The SBA has broadened the Express loan program to reach out to more small businesses. It increased the maximum loan size for Express loans to $250,000, and opened the program to more banks. The SBA guarantees just 50% of Express loans, compared with 75% to 85% of its traditional 7(a) loans. But banks have more control over the loan process with Express loans.
Total number of SBA loans last year was 67,306. Mainly because of the Express program, more banks made SBA loans in the past year. There were 720 participating lenders, nearly triple the 245 participating lenders in the 2002 fiscal year.