- Low interest rate
- Interest does not accrue until proceeds are drawn
- Flexible amortization
- Up to 35 year repayment period
- Deferrable for 5 years after substantial project completion
- No pre-payment penalty
The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program provides credit assistance for qualified projects of regional and national significance. Many large-scale, surface transportation projects - highway, transit, railroad, intermodal freight, and port access - are eligible for assistance. Eligible applicants include state and local governments, transit agencies, railroad companies, special authorities, special districts, and private entities.
The TIFIA credit program is designed to:
fill market gaps and leverage substantial private co-investment through supplemental, subordinate investment in critical improvements to the nation's transportation system.
TIFIA credit assistance is often available on more advantageous terms than in the financial market, making it possible to obtain financing for needed projects when that financing might not otherwise be available.
For more information, please see the TIFIA Credit Program Overview, which summarizes the basic purpose, processes and historical activity of the program.
Credit Assistance & Benefits
The TIFIA credit program offers three distinct types of financial assistance designed to address the varying requirements of projects throughout their life cycles:
Secured (direct) loan - Offers flexible repayment terms and provides combined construction and permanent financing of capital costs. Maximum term of 35 years from substantial completion. Repayments can start up to five years after substantial completion to allow time for facility construction and ramp-up.
Loan guarantee - Provides full-faith-and-credit guarantees by the Federal Government and guarantees a borrower's repayments to non-Federal lender. Loan repayments to lender must commence no later than five years after substantial completion of project.
Standby line of credit - Represents a secondary source of funding in the form of a contingent Federal loan to supplement project revenues, if needed, during the first 10 years of project operations, available up to 10 years after substantial completion of project.
The amount of Federal credit assistance may not exceed 33% of total reasonably anticipated eligible project costs.
The exact terms for each loan are negotiated between the USDOT and the borrower, based on the project economics, the cost and revenue profile of the project, and any other relevant factors. For example, USDOT policy does not generally permit equity investors to receive project returns unless the borrower is current on TIFIA interest payments.
TIFIA interest rates are equivalent to Treasury rates. Depending on market conditions, these rates are often lower than what most borrowers can obtain in the private markets. Unlike private commercial loans with variable rate debt, TIFIA interest rates are fixed.
Overall, borrowers benefit from improved access to capital markets and potentially achieve earlier completion of large-scale, capital intensive projects that otherwise might be delayed or not built at all because of their size and complexity and the market's uncertainty over the timing of revenues.
Chapter 2 of the Build America Bureau's Programs Guide provides further detail on TIFIA credit instruments and other funding issues.
Historically, TIFIA has been a useful tool for large, complex transportation infrastructure projects that needed low-cost financing. TIFIA is a flexible tool that allows borrowers to customize their loan terms and amortization. However, this flexibility can prolong the application process due to the custom negotiations the Bureau and its advisors undertake with each borrower.
With TIFIA Lite, experienced borrowers with strong credit and small, shovel-ready projects can access an expedited application process. By agreeing to use a loan template with standard terms and forgoing the typical negotiation process, borrowers can access the traditional benefits of TIFIA (low interest rate, payment deferral up to five years, no pre-payment penalties, etc.) with a shorter review process. Projects eligible for TIFIA Lite can be approved up to six months faster than an average TIFIA application. Eligible projects can receive up to a $100 million loan.
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