PPP Loans vs. EIDL: Which is right for your small business?

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Most small business owners affected by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for federal loan relief. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) both have low interest rates and portions that may not need to be repaid.

However, there are significant differences, too, starting with how you apply. You could apply for one or both, but it’s important to consider your business’s financial needs, staffing and long-term outlook when deciding between a PPP loan vs. EIDL. And with business owners reporting problems and calling for additional federal funds, these programs aren’t your only choice — you could also consider other emergency loans, as well as local and regional assistance.

PPP loans vs. EIDL: How they stack up

Let’s take a quick look at each program.

PPP is new, a product of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. It provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to cover payroll costs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

EIDLs previously existed, but have been expanded as a result of the pandemic. They provide low-interest funding up to $2 million to cover a broader range of business expenses than what PPP loans cover. While you wait for the EIDL, eligible recipients could get a cash advance up to $10,000 that does not need to be repaid and may be used for almost any business purpose.

Here’s a breakdown of the details:

Paycheck Protection Program Loans Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Loan purpose Mortgage or rent payments, utilities and payroll costs, including:

  • Employee salaries
  • Paid sick or medical leave
  • Insurance premiums
General business expenses, such as payroll, fixed debts and accounts payable
Amount Up to $10 million Up to $2 million
Maximum interest rate 1% fixed interest
  • 3.75% fixed interest for small businesses
  • 2.75% fixed interest for nonprofits
Maximum repayment terms 2 years 30 years
Loan forgiveness available Yes – For eight weeks’ worth of approved payroll and rent or mortgage expenses only, with 75% going toward payroll costs. No. Eligible applicants may receive a cash advance up to $10,000 that does not need to be repaid.
Collateral Not required Not required for loans up to $25,000. Loans exceeding $25,000 would require a general security interest in business assets as collateral.
Personal guarantee Not required Not required for loans up to $200,000.
Where to apply SBA-approved banks and credit unions are accepting applications. U.S. Small Business Administration
Application deadline June 30, 2020 Dec. 21, 2020


Eligibility requirements for both loans are similar: Your business or nonprofit must meet the SBA’s size standards, which typically require a business to employ 500 people or fewer, though there are exceptions for certain industries. You also needed to have been in operation on Feb. 15, 2020 to be eligible for a PPP loan.

Which one is right for my small business?

PPL Loans

Best for: Small business owners struggling to keep employees on the payroll. Main funding needs should include payroll expenses, as well as expenses related to the physical business location, such as rent and utilities.

Loan overview:

Paycheck Protection Program loans are designed to incentivize small business owners to retain employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Loans are available up to $10 million with a 100% SBA guarantee. The SBA offers loan forgiveness for funds spent on specific expenses during the eight weeks following loan origination, including:

  • Mortgage or rent payments
  • Utilities
  • Payroll costs
    • Employee salaries
    • Paid sick or medical leave
    • Insurance premiums

Borrowers could use loan funds for other expenses, but any money spent on anything outside of SBA-approved expenses would not be forgiven. Additionally, approved payroll expenses do not include employee compensation exceeding $100,000. Any reduction in employees during the eight-week period would result in a proportionate reduction in your forgiveness amount. If you laid off employees before receiving your loan, re-hiring those workers before June 30 could make you eligible for full loan forgiveness.

Any amount that is not forgiven would retain its full guarantee, but would have a two-year repayment term with 1% interest. All PPP borrowers would receive the same terms.

Maximum loan amount calculation: Your maximum loan amount would depend on your average monthly payroll costs in the last year. You would multiply your average monthly payroll expenses by 2.5 to determine the highest amount you could borrow. If your business was not open in 2019, you could use your payroll costs from January and February of this year.

Have additional questions about the PPP? Check out these FAQs.


Best for: Small businesses unable to pay a variety of daily expenses, including payroll, accounts payable and other fixed debts.

Loan overview:

The SBA expanded its existing Economic Injury Disaster Loans program to incorporate businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. EIDLs are intended to supplement the temporary loss of revenue small businesses are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Business owners would show losses as of Jan. 31, 2020 in comparison with 2019 financials. These disaster loans are available up to $2 million, with a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and a 2.75% rate for nonprofits.

Funds are not eligible for loan forgiveness, but repayment terms could be as long as 30 years, depending on the individual borrower’s ability to repay debt.

Unlike PPP loans, EIDLs are direct loans, funded through the U.S. Treasury Department. Rather than applying through a partner lending institution, as you would to obtain a PPP loan, you would apply directly through the SBA to get a disaster loan.

Disaster loan advance: While waiting to receive your EIDL, you could qualify for an advance on your loan up to $10,000; this portion of your loan would not need to be repaid. You must request the advance in your EIDL application to be considered. The SBA should issue an EIDL advance within three days of receiving a successful disaster loan application, though many business owners said in early April that they had not received the grant or even heard back from the SBA.

Have additional questions about EIDL? Check out these FAQs.

PPP loans vs. EIDL: What to consider

Whether a PPP loan or an EIDL would be the best solution varies from business to business, according to Katie Vlietstra, vice president for government relations and public affairs for the National Association for the Self Employed. Rather than applying for financing in a fit of panic, take time to analyze your true cash needs and if you have access to any other forms of credit. Vlietstra recommended working with a trusted adviser, such as an attorney or an accountant, to determine your business’s financial standing and navigate the loan application process.

“The reality of the situation is this is not a short-term crisis,” Vlietstra said. “It would behoove any business owner right now to assess what their needs will be in the long term.”

Determine how much cash your business needs now.

The $10,000 EIDL advance could make disaster loans a more attractive option than PPP loans, especially to self-employed business owners or those who operate smaller businesses, Vlietstra said. Even if you’re not ultimately approved for the loan, you could receive the advance, which you would not need to repay.

Businesses that need a quick infusion of capital and may be able to get by on a smaller amount could be drawn to the advance that’s part of the EIDL program. Additionally, the simplicity of the disaster loan application process — which you can complete online directly through the SBA — may seem more feasible than meeting banks’ changing requirements for PPP loans.

Consider your long-term operations.

EIDLs would need to be repaid, with interest, while PPP loans would be eligible for full loan forgiveness, including any interest accrued. EIDLs may not be as appealing for business owners who are unsure of their financial future.

As discussed earlier, PPP loans may be fully forgiven if funds are spent on SBA-approved expenses and all staff members remain employed. The SBA is also offering six months of deferred loan payments on PPP loans.

If you can’t decide, apply for both.

Although you cannot receive a PPP loan and a disaster loan to help with the same expenses (such as payroll), you can submit an application for both loans. You may receive the $10,000 advance in the meantime, which you wouldn’t need to repay regardless of whether you’re approved for a disaster loan. And if you’re denied an EIDL, you may be able to receive a PPP loan. However, any advance amount you receive up to $10,000 would be deducted from the PPP loan amount eligible for forgiveness.

“You can apply for both, and then depending how it nets out from a cash flow perspective or expediency, you can pull your application if you pursue one over the other,” Vlietstra said.

PPP loans off to a rocky start

The ambitious loan program rolled out April 3, with major banks such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase opening applications throughout the day. By the end of the program’s first day, according to news reports, Bank of America received applications from 85,000 business owners seeking $22.2 billion in loans. This raised fears that the program’s $349 billion — available on a first come, first served basis — could be disbursed quicker than imagined. That evening, SBA administrator Jovita Carranza tweeted that the SBA had approved more than 17,500 loans worth $5.4 billion.

The fervor continued through the weekend, causing Wells Fargo to reach its PPP lending capacity based on a federal asset cap. Wells Fargo received enough applications by April 5 to account for the $10 billion it set aside for PPP loans. However, The Federal Reserve said it would temporarily lift Wells Fargo’s asset cap, allowing the bank to continue processing PPP loan applications. By April 6, Bank of America reached 177,000 applications requesting a total of $32.6 billion in funding.

Confusion over eligibility

Despite being told that they could apply to any existing SBA 7(a) lender or other participating institution, small business owners encountered unexpected obstacles. Bank of America, for example, originally prioritized customers who had previously borrowed from the bank, but has since begun allowing small business owners who do not meet that requirement to work directly with a banker to apply for a PPP loan.

Consider a community bank instead

Large banks have grabbed headlines, but community banks have processed most of the PPP loans so far. And more may come online: the SBA has made a new form available for non-SBA lenders to receive authority to issue PPP loans under the program, as long as they are federally insured institutions.

Community-based banks were already among the most active SBA lenders, alongside giants like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. The Independent Community Bankers of America have asked the U.S. Treasury Department to allocate 25% of existing PPP funds to community banks with no more than $50 billion in assets.

Online lenders

Non-bank, online business lenders, such as Kabbage and PayPal, have also been approved to process PPP loans.

Additional funds for the PPP. In case borrowers deplete the PPP loan fund sooner than expected, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to secure an additional $250 billion to support the small business loan program.

This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Featured Image Credit: Deposit Photos.


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