The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program (A Simple Guide)

By Brendan Tuytel on April 16, 2020

On March 25 2020, the SBA expanded its Express Bridge Loan disaster relief funds program nationwide to provide small businesses with coronavirus relief. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is it?

The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program (EBL) provides expedited bridge loan financing for businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The loans are backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The program is a supplement to the SBA’s existing disaster loan program.

Small businesses can borrow up to $25,000 for disaster-related purposes through March 13, 2021. Because it’s an express loan, the SBA has stated that you’ll receive the funds within 45 days of approval, and no later than 90 days.

What can I use the funds for?

The loan must be used for working capital and can only be used to cover operational expenses to support the survival, or the reopening of your small business.

Which businesses are eligible?

Any U.S.-based small business that can prove to be adversely affected by COVID-19 is eligible for an Express Bridge Loan. A small business is defined as having a maximum of $750,000 to $35.5 million in revenue or a maximum of 100 to 1,500 employees.

That being said, the business “size” limit in terms of revenue and employees is slightly different for each industry. You can check out your industry size limits here.

What lenders are authorized?

EBL loans are available from SBA Express Lenders. To be eligible, small businesses must have had an existing banking relationship on or before the date of the disaster, March 13, 2020. The loan terms state that an existing banking relationship can be proven with a copy of a current bank statement or other bank document that references the applicant’s business address.

What are the interest rates and fees?

The maximum allowable interest is 6.5% over the prime rate (currently 4.25%). Interest rates can be fixed or variable.

The fees include:

  • Upfront guaranty fees: Not more than 2% of the guaranteed portion of a loan if the total amount of the loan (maximum of $500)

  • Annual service fee: An annual service fee will be charged of no more than 0.55% of the outstanding balance of the guaranteed portion of each loan.

  • Application fee: the greater of 2% of loan amount or $250

  • Late payment fee: not to exceed 5% of scheduled payment

No collateral is required.

What are the terms and conditions?

Here’s some of the fine print around the EBL program.

  • Eligibility period: Available until March 13, 2021

  • Multiple loans: While one can only obtain one EBL loan per Declaration, it is intended to be a shorter term liability until longer term funding is available and does not infringe on the ability to receive additional SBA funding.

  • Maximum loan amount: $25,000

  • Maximum guaranty percentage: 2% of the loan amount

  • Maximum loan term: Seven years. Or, payment of the loan in full may be required if approved for long-term disaster financing with loan proceeds being available for use towards the EBL loan.

  • Secondary market sales prohibited: EBL’s cannot be sold on the SBA secondary market.

How will my business be evaluated for approval?

To qualify for the bridge loan, your business will be evaluated by your credit scores, tax transcript, and existing banking relationship.

  • SBSS score: Your Small Business Scoring Service Score will be calculated during the loan application. A combination of consumer credit bureau data, business bureau data, borrower financials, and application data will be used to generate a score. The minimum score is 130 but that may change over time.

  • Personal credit score: Required for each guarantor in the business.

  • IRS tax transcript or equivalent: The lender must submit a signed IRS Form 4506-T to the IRS and obtain an IRS tax transcript. A tax transcript summarizes your tax return info and includes your adjusted gross income.

  • Existing banking relationship: Acceptable documentation may include a copy of a current bank statement or other official bank documents that reference the EBL applicant’s business address.

Some red flags for the SBA

The SBA can’t guarantee a loan for a small business with an “associate” who doesn’t meet their “good character” requirement. That means if you, or your business partner, is incarcerated, on probation or parole, or is currently under criminal investigation, you might not be able to secure a express bridge loan.

The same applies if you currently have outstanding federal debt or prior loss (unless waived by the SBA for good cause).

What forms are required?

More COVID-19 resources


This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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