SBA Administrator Guzman Enhances COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to Aid Small Businesses Facing Challenges from Delta Variant

September 9, 2021 | Release Number 21-81

Contact U.S. Small Business Administration at Press_Office@sba.gov


Increased Loan Cap to $2 Million, Expanded Use of Funds to Pay and Prepay Business Debt, Streamlined Review Processes, and Deferred Payments; First Approval and Disbursement of Loans of $500,000 or Less Also Introduced.

From SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman –

As part of President Joe Biden’s recently announced COVID-19 Action Plan, I am thrilled to share that the SBA has improved the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to better meet the needs of small businesses, especially those hardest hit industries and smallest entities that still need relief.

The low-interest and long-term COVID EIDL program has helped millions of small business owners survive the impacts of the pandemic with its flexibility and affordability – allowing entrepreneurs to hire and retain employees, and purchase needed equipment and inventory.  

Now, we’re making the program even more flexible to meet your needs. 

  • The SBA has increased the amount of funding that can be borrowed from $500,000 to $2 million for qualified applicants.  
  • We have authorized COVID EIDL funds to be used to pay and prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt in recognition of the financial reality many small businesses are facing during this crisis.
  • We have also made sure that small businesses have time to recover from COVID-19 impacts by further deferring payments – so you won’t need to start repaying these loans for two years after your loan origination date. 
  • In addition, to help ensure our smallest businesses can access this crucial capital, we created a one-month exclusive window for businesses requesting $500,000. During this time, approvals and disbursements will focus 100% on loans $500,000 or less until October 8th, upon which approvals and disbursements will be opened up to all loan sizes.
  • Finally, to ease the COVID EIDL application process for small businesses, the SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. 

Our commitment is to serve all our small businesses efficiently while also maintaining strong protections against fraud and abuse, and as such we have worked hard to improve operations. We are also dedicating ourselves to improving our customer service response and the application user experience. As of today, we have increased COVID EIDL application processing capacity from an average of 2,000 to more than 37,000 applications per day.

We will continue to accept applications for the COVID EIDL program until December 31, 2021 or until funds run out. We encourage you not to delay and apply today, as well as forward this email to any fellow business owners you think may qualify for the program.

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced major enhancements to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, a federal disaster relief loan designed to better serve and support our small business communities still reeling from the pandemic, especially hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels. The SBA is ready to receive new applications immediately from small businesses looking to take advantage of these new policy changes.

“The SBA’s COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program offers a lifeline to millions of small businesses who are still being impacted by the pandemic,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. “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. 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.  Our mission-driven SBA team has been working around the clock to make the loan review process as user-friendly as possible to ensure every entrepreneur who needs help can get the capital they need to reopen, recover and rebuild.”

Key changes being announced by the SBA include:

  • Increasing the COVID EIDL Cap. The SBA will lift the COVID EIDL 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.
  • Implementation of a Deferred Payment Period.  The SBA will ensure small business owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan origination so that they can get through the pandemic without having to worry about making ends meet.
  • Establishment of 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 will now be eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.
  • Simplification of affiliation requirements. To ease the COVID EIDL application process for small businesses, the SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

The enhancements to the COVID EIDL program will allow more businesses greater and more flexible support from the over $150 billion in available COVID EIDL funds. Additionally, these changes will help entrepreneurs access capital at a time when, according to a recent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses survey, 44 percent of small business owners report having less than three months of cash reserves, and only 31 percent reporting confidence in gaining access to funding.

How to apply

Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, and agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories can apply. Visit www.sba.gov/eidl to learn more about eligibility and application requirements. The last day that applications may be received is December 31, 2021. All applicants should file their applications as soon as possible.

For additional information on COVID EIDL and other recovery programs please visit www.sba.gov/relief. Small business owners may call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard of hearing) or email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov for additional assistance. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Multilingual representatives are available. Small business owners may also contact SBA’s Resource Partners by visiting www.sba.gov/local-assistance.

 Application Process and Fraud Control Enhancements

In addition to the policy enhancements, the SBA has invested in optimized processes and increased capacity to improve the customer service experience for applicants. Directed by Administrator Guzman to swiftly and drastically enhance COVID EIDL, the revamped management team implemented new processes and performance management such as prioritizing personnel for COVID EIDL and increasing the average number of loan application decisions made. The SBA accelerated daily processing of loan increases from close to 2,000 applications to more than 37,000 applications daily. Loan officer productivity also went from 1.86 applications per day to 15 applications per day. As a result of these increased loan review rates, the 600,000+ loan increase backlog has been cleared and new applications can be processed immediately. At the same time, and to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to support businesses that need COVID EIDL funding most, the SBA has increased fraud controls and is working in collaboration with the SBA Inspector General to closely monitor the program.

All business owners that have received previous loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), or Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) can still benefit from COVID EIDL. To learn more about the application process, visit www.sba.gov/eidl.

About Economic Injury Disaster Loans 

In response to COVID-19, small business owners, including agricultural businesses, and nonprofit organizations in all U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and territories can apply for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The purpose of EIDL is for small businesses to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. 

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

Kim Swei
Author: Kim Swei

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