Small Business Loan Update – Stimulus Bill Helps Bailout Businesses If They Cannot Pay Loans

As we continue to sift dutifully through the over 1,000 pages of the stimulus bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), there is one provision that is not getting much attention, but could be very helpful to small businesses. If you are a small business and have received an SBA loan from your local banker, but are having trouble making payments, you can get a “stabilization loan”. That’s right; finally some bailout money goes into the hands of the small business owner, instead of going down the proverbial deep hole of the stock market or large banks. But don’t get too excited. It is limited to very specific instances and is not available for vast majority of business owners.

There are some news articles that boldly claim the SBA will now provide relief if you have an existing business loan and are having trouble making the payments. This is not a true statement and needs to be clarified. As seen in more detail in this article, this is wrong because it applies to troubled loans made in the future, not existing ones.

Here is how it works. Assume you were one of the lucky few that find a bank to make a SBA loan. You proceed on your merry way but run into tough economic times and find it hard to repay. Remember these are not conventional loans but loans from an SBA licensed lender that are guaranteed for default by the U.S. government through the SBA (depending upon the loan, between 50% and 90%). Under the new stimulus bill, the SBA might come to your rescue. You will be able to get a new loan which will pay-off the existing balance on extremely favorable terms, buying more time to revitalize your business and get back in the saddle. Sound too good to be true? Well, you be the judge. Here are some of the features:

1. Does not apply to SBA loans taken out before the stimulus bill. As to non-SBA loans, they can be before or after the bill’s enactment.

2. Does it apply to SBA guaranteed loans or non-SBA conventional loans as well? We don’t know for sure. This statute simply says it applies to a “small business concern that meets the eligibility standards and section 7(a) of the Small Business Act” (Section 506 (c) of the new Act). That contains pages and pages of requirements which could apply to both types of loans. Based on some of the preliminary reports from the SBA, it appears it applies to both SBA and non-SBA loans.

3. These monies are subject to availability in the funding of Congress. Some think the way we are going with our Federal bailout, we are going be out of money before the economy we are trying to save.

4. You don’t get these monies unless you are a viable business. Boy, you can drive a truck through that phrase. Our friends at the SBA will determine if you are “viable” (imagine how inferior you will be when you have to tell your friends your business was determined by the Federal government to be “non-viable” and on life support).

5. You have to be suffering “immediate financial hardship”. So much for holding out making payments because you’d rather use the money for other expansion needs. How many months you have to be delinquent, or how close your foot is to the banana peel of complete business failure, is anyone’s guess.

6. It is not certain, and commentators disagree, as to whether the Federal government through the SBA will make the loan from taxpayers’ dollars or by private SBA licensed banks. In my opinion it is the latter. It carries a 100% SBA guarantee and I would make no sense if the government itself was making the loan.

7. The loan cannot exceed $35,000. Presumably the new loan will be “taking out” or refinancing the entire balance on the old one. So if you had a $100,000 loan that you have been paying on time for several years but now have a balance of $35,000 and are in trouble, boy do we have a program for you. Or you might have a smaller $15,000 loan and after a short time need help. The law does not say you have to wait any particular period of time so I guess you could be in default after the first couple of months.

8. You can use it to make up no more than six months of monthly delinquencies.

9. The loan will be for a maximum term of five years.

10. The borrower will pay absolutely no interest for the duration of the loan. Interest can be charged, but it will be subsidized by the Federal government.

11. Here’s the great part. If you get one of these loans, you don’t have to make any payments for the first year.

12. There are absolutely no upfront fees allowed. Getting such a loan is 100% free (of course you have to pay principal and interest after the one year moratorium).

13. The SBA will decide whether or not collateral is required. In other words, if you have to put liens on your property or residence. My guess is they will lax as to this requirement.

14. You can get these loans until September 30, 2010.

15. Because this is emergency legislation, within 15 days after signing the bill, the SBA has to come up with regulations.

Here is a summary of the actual legislative language if you are having trouble getting to sleep:

SEC. 506. BUSINESS STABILIZATION PROGRAM. (a) IN GENERAL- Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration shall carry out a program to provide loans on a deferred basis to viable (as such term is determined pursuant to regulation by the Administrator of the Small Business Administration) small business concerns that have a qualifying small business loan and are experiencing immediate financial hardship.

(b) ELIGIBLE BORROWER- A small business concern as defined under section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632).

(c) QUALIFYING SMALL BUSINESS LOAN- A loan made to a small business concern that meets the eligibility standards in section 7(a) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 636(a)) but shall not include loans guarantees (or loan guarantee commitments made) by the Administrator prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

(d) LOAN SIZE- Loans guaranteed under this section may not exceed $35,000.

(e) PURPOSE- Loans guaranteed under this program shall be used to make periodic payment of principal and interest, either in full or in part, on an existing qualifying small business loan for a period of time not to exceed 6 months.

(f) LOAN TERMS- Loans made under this section shall:

(1) carry a 100 percent guaranty; and

(2) have interest fully subsidized for the period of repayment.

(g) REPAYMENT- Repayment for loans made under this section shall–

(1) be amortized over a period of time not to exceed 5 years; and

(2) not begin until 12 months after the final disbursement of funds is made.

(h) COLLATERAL- The Administrator of the Small Business Administration may accept any available collateral, including subordinated liens, to secure loans made under this section.

(i) FEES- The Administrator of the Small Business Administration is prohibited from charging any processing fees, origination fees, application fees, points, brokerage fees, bonus points, prepayment penalties, and other fees that could be charged to a loan applicant for loans under this section.

(j) SUNSET- The Administrator of the Small Business Administration shall not issue loan guarantees under this section after September 30, 2010.

(k) EMERGENCY RULEMAKING AUTHORITY- The Administrator of the Small Business Administration shall issue regulations under this section within 15 days after the date of enactment of this section. The notice requirements of section 553(b) of title 5, United States Code shall not apply to the promulgation of such regulations.

The real question is whether a private bank will loan under this program. Unfortunately, few will do so because the statute very clearly states that no fees whatsoever can be charged, and how can a bank make any money if they loan under those circumstances. Sure, they might make money in the secondary market, but that is dried up, so they basically are asked to make a loan out of the goodness of their heart. On a other hand, it carries a first ever 100% government guarantee so the bank’s know they will be receiving interest and will have no possibility of losing a single dime. Maybe this will work after all.

But there is something else that would be of interest to a bank. In a way, this is a form of Federal bailout going directly to small community banks. They have on their books loans that are in default and they could easily jump at the chance of being able to bail them out with this program. Especially if they had not been the recipients of the first TARP monies. Contrary to public sentiment, most of them did not receive any money. But again, this might not apply to that community bank. Since they typically package and sell their loans within three to six months, it probably wouldn’t even be in default at that point. It would be in the hands of the secondary market investor.

So is this good or bad for small businesses? Frankly, it’s good to see that some bailout money is working its way toward small businesses, but most of them would rather have a loan in the first place, as opposed help when in default. Unfortunately, this will have a limited application.

Wouldn’t it be better if we simply expanded our small business programs so more businesses could get loans? How about the SBA creating a secondary market for small business loans? I have a novel idea: for the moment forget about defaults, and concentrate on making business loans available to start-ups or existing businesses wanting to expand.

How about having a program that can pay off high interest credit card balances? There is hardly a business out there that has not been financing themselves lately through credit cards, simply because banks are not making loans. It is not unusual for people to have $50,000 plus on their credit cards, just to stay afloat. Talk about saving high interest. You can imagine how much cash flow this would give a small business.

We should applaud Congress for doing their best under short notice to come up with this plan. Sure this is a form of welcome bailout for small businesses, but I believe it misses the mark as to the majority of the 27 million business owners that are simply looking for a loan they can repay, as opposed to a handout.

Secured And Unsecured Loans In Bankruptcy

When it comes to taking out a loan, you should know they are not all the same. There are many types of loans and the terms and conditions of a loan can vary greatly. Different types of loans each have their own benefits and risks. The terms of a secured loan can be stricter than an unsecured loan. One of the main differences between these two types of loans is how debt collection efforts are handled in the event you default on your loan payments. Your debt repayment options may be managed differently in a secured loan than an unsecured loan. In the event of an extended financial hardship, you may not be eligible to have certain types of loans eliminated through bankruptcy.

Secured Loans

Most major loan purchases, such as your home or car, are called secured loans. They are called secured loans because the debts acquired under this type of loan are secured against collateral. A mortgage loan is considered a secured loan. In a mortgage loan, the lender has the right to repossess the home if you default on your payments. Defaulting on a mortgage loan can lead to foreclosure, whereby the lender takes over the rights to the home and may sell the home in order to satisfy the debts owed. Loans for car purchases are also secured loans. The lender can repossess your car and sell it to recover the loan amount. If the sale of the asset does not satisfy the full amount of the debt that is owed, you may still be held liable for repaying the remaining amount owed on the debt.

A personal secured loan is one in which you are using your home or car as collateral, but the money received in the loan is used to purchase other items. An example of a personal secured loan is a payday loan, in which you put the title to your car as collateral against the loan. Even though the loan is not used for the purchase of the car, the lender has the right to repossess the car if you default on repaying the loan. If your car is repossessed during a payday loan, you are still liable for any debts still owed on your car loan through the originating lender. This can lead to further financial trouble and more debt.

Secured Loans And Bankruptcy

Secured loans can be more difficult to manage when if you find yourself in financial trouble. A secured loan may not be eligible for elimination if you file for bankruptcy. In some cases, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate the debt owed on a secured loan, but you may risk losing the property to the lender. Legally, lenders are allowed to seize and liquidate some of your assets in order to fulfill the debt payments of a secured loan. However, there are many states whose bankruptcy laws may offer exemptions for some of your assets. Bankruptcy exemptions may allow for your home and car can be protected from liquidation during bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can protect your assets from liquidation through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. The repayment plan allows for you to keep your assets while you make payments towards the loan over the course of 3 to 5 years. Once you complete the repayment plan, you will be relieved of your loan debt and own the rights to the property.

The most important thing to remember about defaulting on a secured loan, is that time is crucial for protecting your assets. Once you realize you may not be able to make your payment, contact your lender and discuss negotiating a modified repayment plan. Many lenders prefer to modify a repayment plan that better suits your budget, than risk losing money through selling the property through foreclosure or repossession. If your lender is not willing to negotiate, seek counsel from a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

Unsecured Loans

Unsecured loans are loans that do not have any collateral used against the loan. The loan is unsecured because it is based on your promise to repay the debt. In an unsecured loan, the lender is not given any rights to seize or liquidate a specific asset. If you default on the loan, the lender may make debt collection efforts but are not afforded the right to reclaim any of your property.

The most common type of unsecured loan is a credit card. Defaulting on a credit card may lead to collection efforts, but creditors cannot take your assets to pay for the debt. Some personal loans are considered unsecured loans if you did not put up any of your property as collateral for the loan. Defaulting on unsecured loan payments can lead to negative consequences such as damage to your credit, harsh collection attempts and legal action. Another example of an unsecured loan is a student loan. Generally, student loans are treated seriously by the lending institution and defaulting on such loans can lead to significant consequences. Federal bankruptcy laws do not protect borrowers that default on a student loan payment and you risk having your wages garnished for purposes of paying the debt owed.

Unsecured Loans And Bankruptcy

Unsecured loans are much easier to have discharged through bankruptcy than a secured loan. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate most of your unsecured debt. In some cases, the bankruptcy court may decide to allow for some of your assets to be liquidated to fulfill debt payments. However, bankruptcy laws offer exemptions to protect most of your assets in bankruptcy. As in a secured loan, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will protect your assets as you make payments towards the debt.

Your debts are your responsibility, whether they are secured or unsecured loan debts. Although bankruptcy allows for debt relief when experiencing financial hardships, this assistance should not be abused. It is always best to repay your debts in full to prevent any further damage to your credit history and to maintain a good financial standing. However, good people may experience tough times. Bankruptcy can provide relief from your debts and protect your assets, but it is best to be properly advised about your financial situation before you decide to pursue bankruptcy. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can review your options and help you make the decision to put you on the path to financial stability.

Controlling Student Loan Payments

Student  loan  debt has become an epidemic of sorts. These  loans  can be hefty and ultimately stressful. Many young people in America are scared to even make a monthly payment on their student  loans . It could seem impossible to deal with due to the enormous balance that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

When you are young you are impressionable. Today’s millennials are no exception. Accruing student  loan  debt is seen as a necessary burden essential to achieving their careers. Many find themselves employed following college. However, according to CareerBuilder.com about half of college graduates in 2014 were employed in jobs that do not require a college degree.

To make things worse the student  loan  lenders begin hounding their “clients” immediately after graduating. If you are one of these clients you probably know by now that nothing in this world comes easier than debt. The chances of you having money to pay your student  loan  debts so soon is quite slim.

Before leaving high school these young, impressionable people are lead to believe a college education will lead to a guaranteed career. Turns out, it is not that simple. The Washington Post reported in 2013, according to data from Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27% of college graduates had jobs related to their major. If this comes as a rude awakening to you I apologize. There is no one simple way to make your dream job come true and your student  loan  debts disappear. However, it takes action, commitment and it is possible.

Student  loans . If reading those two words infuriates you don’t worry. It should. Paying off student  loans  may seem impossible but there are ways you can help yourself out. The first thing you need to do is understand what type of  loan  you have. Some  loans  are eligible for certain benefits which may assist your situation.

Check out the National Student  Loan  Data System (NSLD). This website is home to the U.S Department of Education’s database for student aid. Only federal student  loans  are eligible for this aid. In my experience I’ve talked to more individuals with federal  loans  than those with private ones.

A good idea for those who are unemployed or “between jobs” is deferment or forbearance. A deferment or forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making your federal student  loan  payments or to temporarily reduce the amount you pay. This could be helpful if you are in danger of defaulting on your  loan . A default occurs when you have not made your monthly payments for an extended period of time. In the case of a default, the lender make execute legal action in order to get their money back.

If you are eligible for deferment, the federal government may pay the interest on your  loans  during the deferment period. The opposite goes for a forbearance. In a forbearance you may be able to lower your payments or stop payments completely for up to 12 months.

These options can give you room to breathe and pursue the career you studied so long to achieve.

There are other options available to help get your monthly payments decreased to a manageable level. There are income-based repayment plans for people with direct  loans  or Federal Family Education  Loan  (FFEL) Program  loans . In an income-based repayment program your monthly payments can be reduced to 10% of your monthly income. In most cases the  loan  is forgiven after 25 years in these programs.

Depending on your situation, there may be a repayment plan out there that best suits you. Head over to the Federal Student Aid website and browse their listings of payment plans.

Student  loan  consolidation is a viable option for people with more than one student  loan . If your student  loans  have varying interest rates and minimum monthly payments you should look into a Direct Consolidation  Loan . Just like traditional consolidation, a direct consolidation  loan  combines multiple federal student  loans  into one  loan  with one payment and interest rate. These  loans  can stretch the amount of time you have to pay the  loan , thus lowering your monthly payment. You will also get a fixed rate on your interest instead of dealing with variable rates.

Consolidation does have its down sides. You may be more comfortable with the monthly payments but, you will end up paying more in the long run due to the interest rate. If your individual  loans  had attached benefits you will lose those as well.

You may not have planned on dealing with student debt when you were leaving high school. With most people it seems to sneak up on them as soon as the leave college. No matter what your student debt situation is there are programs available to help you manage it. You deserve to focus on the future and work towards your career goals instead of worrying about monthly payments.

Military Auto Loans – Above and Beyond

Unfortunately, most communities in the nation require a car for everything from getting to work to picking up the kids and on to shopping at the commissary. A car is necessary to a most households and military service members and their families are no different. By taking a military auto loan, you may be heading off high interest rates in exchange for quick processing and approval times and straight-forward and uncomplicated contracts.

Looking at Interest Rates and Other Benefits

Military auto loans are usually available at lower interest rates, due mainly to your job and income stability. A lender is pretty much assured of regular payments and can offer you more benefits. Among them are:

– Longer time to pay off the loan. – 100% car financing, no down payment. – Lower charges for taxes, licensing, origination and activation fees. – No collateral as the car itself becomes the security. – No prepayment penalty. – No U.S. domicile requirement, very handy if you are deployed overseas.

Flexibility on Credit Scores

Military auto loans usually have a lower credit rating benchmark than civilian loans. Most military auto lenders understand the precarious position of armed services members and understand that a military lifestyle makes some untoward demands that can result in lower than usual credit scores. Your credit scores will not be as important as the salary you make compared with your debt load. This debt-to-income ratio will be the final arbiter of how much you can borrow. Some lenders offer no credit check, military auto loans if you have particularly poor scores.

Flexible Repayment Terms

First of all, military or civilian, missing a payment is a high crime against yourself and your lender. But, you are in the military and sometimes because of deployments and relocation it can be difficult. Often lenders will allow postponement of payment or delay of payment due to financial difficulties. You will not find that with civilian loans. You can also consider giving Power of Attorney to your spouse or another trusted individual so they can make decisions and payments on your behalf. You can have the paymaster allot payments from your paycheck directly to the lender. Or you can have the payment automatically taken from your banking account. Of course, debit and credit cards, checks and cash are always acceptable.

Active Duty Military Personnel Criteria

To avail yourself of a military auto loan you should be on active duty, even if your time in service has been short. (Military veterans can usually avail themselves of a military auto loan as well.) The lender will ask to see your most recent Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). You will have to offer a home of record and current deployment details. Always notify your lender should your situation change regarding deployment or relocation. You will also need to divulge your duty station address, personal contact information such as phone number and email address, and your social security number (SSN).

Going Online for Your Military Auto Loan

If you point your browser to Military Auto Loan you will be rewarded with many pages of lenders who are willing to help you get in the driving seat. Just be sure they are reputable and that any pages where you divulge financial or personal information are secure. Any required documentation can faxed or scanned to the lender. Your approval should come through in a matter of minutes and your funds should be in your banking account within 24 hours. The nice thing about arranging a military loan online is that you can do it all remotely no matter where you are stationed and not matter where your family might be. You could make the arrangements in Iraq and your wife could go pick up the car in Seattle, for instance.