WASHINGTON — As National Small Business Week kicked off on Sunday, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced major enhancements to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, a federal disaster relief loan designed to better serve and support small-business communities still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
The SBA says it’s ready to receive new applications immediately from small businesses looking to take advantage of the new policy changes.
“We’ve retooled this critical program — increasing the borrowing limit to $2 million, offering 24 months of deferment, and expanding flexibility to allow borrowers to pay down higher-interest business debt,” says SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “We have also ramped up our outreach efforts to ensure we’re connecting with our smallest businesses as well as those from low-income communities who may also be eligible for the companion COVID EIDL Targeted Advance and Supplemental Advance grants totaling up to $15,000.”
Key changes include:
- Increasing the COVID EIDL Cap — The SBA will lift the cap from $500,000 to $2 million. Loan funds can be used for any normal operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment, and paying debt.
- Implementing a Deferred Payment Period — Small-business owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan origination.
- Establishing a 30-day Exclusivity Window — To ensure Main Street businesses have additional time to access these funds, the SBA will implement a 30-day exclusivity window of approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less. Approval and disbursement of loans over $500,000 will begin after the 30-day period.
- Expansion of Eligible Use of Funds — COVID EIDL funds are now eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.
- Simplification of Affiliation Requirements — To ease the application process, SBA has established more simplified requirements.
The program enhancements will allow more businesses greater and more flexible support from the over $150 billion in available COVID EIDL funds, the SBA says. Additionally, these changes will help entrepreneurs access capital at a time when, according to a recent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses survey, 44% of small-business owners report having less than three months of cash reserves, and only 31% report having confidence in gaining access to funding.
Eligible small businesses, nonprofits and agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories can apply. Anyone interested may visit www.sba.gov/eidl to learn more about eligibility and application requirements.
The SBA recommends that applications be filed as soon as possible. Dec. 31 is the final day that applications may be received.