How to Become SBA 8a Certified: Document Needed for SBA 8(a) Qualifications

Assessing Your 8(a) Application Complexity

SBA 8(a) business development eligibility requirements are often seen by my business owners as perplexing and confusing. Some applications are very straightforward and check all the standard boxes while for other firms their approval will depend upon their ability to explain “What is going on here?” to the SBA.


SBA 8(a) Program Has Hidden Rules

Adding to this ambiguity there are OHA (Offices of Hearing and Appeals) where clarifications to the regulations are made that are not listed in any definitive regulation governing the 8(a) program. This gives the SBA 8(a) program eligibility requirements that are only listed in this case law. Therefore, if your firm is in a gray area, it is important when applying for the 8(a) Certification that you either research the latest OHA ruling or give us a call. We are always happy to discuss these issues with your firm.

Call! We Can Help!

We are always happy to help firms assess what type of opportunity an 8(a) certification can provide as well as helping a firm assess if now is the correct time to move forward with an application. We can generally do this in a 10–15-minute phone call. There is not fee or obligation for this call and with 19 years of experience we know what is a winning formula for both obtaining the certification as well as having success once you enter the program.

Below Are The Core Qualification Requirements For SBA 8(a) Applicants:

Socially Disadvantaged


The applicant should prove that he or she is an American citizen by providing a passport, birth certificate, and other documents.

Bias Group

Presumed socially disadvantaged groups are Asian Pacific Islander, Subcontinent Asian, Hispanic American (Including the Iberian Peninsula), Native American, Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan or African American. Individuals from non-presumed groups (those person’s not fitting into one of the above categories), and have experienced chronic, persistent bias against you based on gender, disability, veteran status, culture, race, or some other factor you may also be eligible for joining the SBA 8(a) program. If you are a person from a non-presumed group, you will need to prove the discrimination and bias you have faced in American business and education environments to the Small Business Administration via a detailed narrative.

Economically Disadvantaged


Average 3-year AGI, an applicant’s average 3-year AGI as per his federal tax returns should not exceed $400,000. The SBA will have exceptions for K-1 and Schedule C income that is retained in the firm as well as for the taxes retained on those funds.

Net worth

Personal net worth should not be more than $850,000 excluding the following three items, your personal residence, the value of your business and retirement accounts.


Personal Assets should not be more than $6,500,000 excluding retirement accounts.

Note: This figure considers all the cash that you have, savings and checking accounts, stocks, investment real estate, automobiles, bonds, RVs, motorcycles, and other possessions. The value of your home, IRAs, company, and 401Ks are acknowledged based on the personal financial statement, but they are not counted towards personal net worth limitation.

Potential to Succeed

The SBA always looks for stable, established, financially sound and well-documented firms. The SBA requires that the owner of the firm have full-time devotion and are entrepreneurs that are technically qualified and have the experience to operate the business.

Size of the business

The size of the company should be small either in terms of gross revenue or staff levels.

Contract performance

The company applying for 8(a) certification should have a considerable contract performance history including a contract completed within the last year and a good portfolio of projects/clients. One client cannot make up more than 70% of the revenue for the 8(a) firm on a rolling 12-month basis. The applicant firm should also be showing a profit on their most recent tax return.

Age of the firm

Many 8(a) applicants think that SBA considers companies that are at least two years old. However, this is incorrect. An essential SBA 8(a) application requirement is that the company must be two or more years of age as proven with two or more consecutive years of tax returns. Firms which can prove to SBA that they have had many contracts, years of owner’s experience, and revenue over $150,000 as well as the resources to succeed within the 8(a) program, can gain early admittance into the 8(a) program before completing two full years in business.


An economically and socially disadvantaged person should have unfettered, full control of the firm including both daily operations and deliberate decision-making. This individual should hold the most powerful designation in the firm.

Annual salary

An 8(a) applicant should be the highest paid individual at the firm, but his/her annual salary should be reasonable in proportion to the annual gross revenue of the firm.


One or more economically and socially disadvantaged people should own the company. The owner (s) must have 51% or more share in the firm.

Going over these qualifications is a great starting point. Give us a call so we can go into a deeper dive to make sure your firm is currently qualified for the SBA 8(a) Certification.