An SBA loan is intended to help a small business get up and running. This can be a risky endeavor, so the federal government provides them to help entrepreneurs who might not be able to get a loan under normal circumstances. It’s a powerful kick-starter for our economy.
The SBA doesn’t make any of the loans itself, but makes it all possible by guaranteeing the loans made by other lending institutions. What usually happens in the case of a default is the lending bank will contact you and explain the details of the default and how to remedy it.
In situations where you are unable (or unwilling) to make payments, the lender will begin the collection process as laid out in the SBA loan agreement. Actions include the sale of assets you used to collateralize the debt. This will include business assets, and for larger loans, maybe even your home and other properties. The lender can close the business and can also foreclose on your property.
If it reaches a point where the lender has used all options for recovery, they’ll make a claim to the SBA. At this point, the SBA guarantee kicks in and the federal government will repay the lion’s share of the loan on your behalf.
With the lender paid, you would now be dealing with the SBA. You’d get a notice from the SBA, explaining that you need to pay the remaining balance or present an “offer in compromise.” An offer in compromise is a situation where the SBA will review your financial situation and perhaps accept less than is actually required. The key in these situations is for you to present a settlement amount that is substantial, but also sustainable given your finances. The SBA obviously has no interest in payment plans that you wouldn’t be able to meet.
If the SBA accepts your offer, then everyone will be happy as long as the repayments are made. In cases where the SBA rejects the offer, you usually have an opportunity to recalibrate and submit again. Other times, the SBA will simply send the account to the Treasury Department. At that point, the Treasury Department has a full range of collection options (like garnishing wages and taking tax returns).
You might still have the option to settle when the loan is with the Treasury Department, but it’s a tedious process. So it’s always better to find solutions at the beginning of the process, when the loan is still with the original lender. Think about it this way: would you rather deal with a nice woman at a bank named Mary, or a government agent who eats entrepreneurs for breakfast?
It’s important to remember that even if trouble arises, there’s life after default. Once you’ve settled the debt, you can move forward and focus on restoring your financial health. To make sure it’s truly in the rear-view mirror, you will need to make sure that you’ve resolved all the issues related to the defaulted loan. This is particularly true for SBA liens or judgements that might go unnoticed at the time, but could cause issues later.