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All the Financial Assistance Options for Small Businesses During COVID-19

June 23, 2020

Given the rapidly changing economic, social, and political environment due to the pandemic, this article has been updated since it was first published to reflect the most up-to-date information.

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented burden for small businesses around the world. As America’s largest online credit marketplace, we take pride in catering to small businesses and are committed not only to providing access to much needed funds, but also to helping you understand all your options during these uncertain times.

Below we’ve outlined the many public and private funding options available for small businesses and self-employed individuals.

U.S. Small Business Administration Relief Options

On March 27, 2020, the current Administration signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which authorized more than $1.8 trillion to aid the U.S. economy. Small business relief funds are primarily being handled through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) which may channel loans through state organizations or private lenders. For this reason, you may see some of the programs listed on the SBA website, and you may apply through a different organization.

There are four main relief provisions offered through the SBA, with various amounts and stipulations. We outline them below:

For questions, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Loan Amount: Up to $2,000,000
Interest Rate: 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit
Loan Term: Up to 30 years

The EIDL loan is designed to help small businesses with operating costs and has loose requirements on how funds must be used (compared to the Payroll Protection Program below). The funds cannot be used to refinance debt, payments, tax penalties, fines, or dividends. There is no collateral requirement for loans under $200,000. There is a 12-month deferment period option for the loan, however, interest still accrues during this deferment. 

To qualify for the EIDL, a business must have less than 500 employees (or otherwise qualify under the SBA small business size standards), and have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Independent contractors and sole proprietors (i.e., self-employed) qualify as well. 

You can apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the streamlined online SBA application. There is also a detailed application guide. 

SBA Express Bridge Loans

Loan Amount: Up to $25,000
Interest Rate: Up to 6.5% over prime rate (both fixed and variable)
Maximum Allowable Fees: 2% Application Fee, 2% Guaranty Fee, 0.55% Annual Service Fee, 5% Late Payment Fee

The Express Bridge Loan (EBL) program is for small businesses who need cash fast. Designed for companies that have an existing relationship with an SBA Express Lender (and had a valid SBA Form 2424) before March 13 2020, the Bridge Loan program must be used toward working capital and operational expenses for the reopening of your small business.

Collateral is not required for this loan and it is primarily a means to easily get more cash from an existing lender. Revolving lines of credit are not available under the EBL program, and a borrower must certify the “credit elsewhere” requirements that they do not “have the ability to obtain some or all of the requested loan funds on reasonable terms from non-Federal sources, including the Lender, without SBA assistance.”

To apply, inquire with your existing lender about bridge loan availability. EBL loans can only be made up to six months after the date of an applicable Presidential Disaster Declaration (March 13, 2020).

Paycheck Protection Program

On March 25, 2021, Congress passed a bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Once signed into law, the PPP Extension Act of 2021 would extend the PPP through May 31, 2021, giving applicants an additional two months to apply for a first and second chance at the loan. The bill also gives the SBA until June 30, 2021 to process lender applications.

Loan Amount: Up to $10 million
Interest Rate: 1%, if not forgiven
Loan Term: Two years (Six-month deferral)
Maximum Allowable Fees: No fees

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan forgiveness program designed to help small businesses keep employees on payroll and pay essential costs. The program has a loan limit of $10 million and is paid out through existing SBA 7(a) lenders, meaning you can likely get it from a private institution you prefer.

The PPP is in many ways more of a grant than a loan. While there is a 1% interest rate and a 2-year repayment period, the loan is completely forgiven if you follow certain protocol, mainly spending the funds on payroll costs, mortgage, rent and utilities.

The PPP is a good option for a small business that still wishes to operate during the COVID-19 shutdown. The PPP is also a great option if you’re a self-employed individual as you can qualify yourself as an employee and pay your salary and expenses through the program.

To find a list of eligible lenders, search through the SBA lender match tool, or apply online through LendingClub’s partnership with FundingCircle.*

SBA Debt Relief

This is an option for businesses with existing loans. As of December 27, 2020, the Economic Aid Act allows the SBA to automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees on 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months, as well as loans issued under the CARES Act before Sept. 27, 2020, even if not fully disbursed.

The SBA will provide automatic deferments through Dec. 31, 2020, for existing disaster loans that were in “regular servicing” March 1, 2020. However, interest will still accrue on the loan.

The Economic Aid Act also authorized additional debt relief payments to 7(a), 504, and Microloan borrowers beyond the six-month period allowed in the CARES Act. The assistance varies based on when the loan was approved, and whether it will begin on or after February 1, 2021. Contact your lender with questions on availability of this assistance.

Private Grants and Relief Options

In addition to government funds, there are a number of private companies stepping up to provide economic relief during the Coronavirus crisis. We outline national options below.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Facebook for Business is offering $100 million in grants to for-profit small businesses with between two and 50 employees that have been in operation for at least one year. Businesses must provide a brief explanation of how they will use the funds. This is only available to companies that operate where Facebook operates. You can check your eligibility here.

National Bank Relief Efforts

Many of the nation’s smaller banks have made efforts to assist their customers during this time, either in the form of loan deferrals, waived overdraft charges, waived penalties for early CD withdrawals for emergency needs, or increased debit card and credit card limits.

To find out if your bank is providing any relief efforts, inquire with them through appropriate channels or check out the American Bankers Association list of COVID-19 relief actions by institution.

Google Ad Credits

As many in person businesses shift more of their products and services online, Google is helping by offering $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all small businesses with active accounts over the past year. Credits will automatically appear in Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020.

Interested in learning more? Check out these related blog posts:

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