The Paycheck Safety Program could run out of cash earlier than the Could deadline

Customer Tamara Jenkins will try on a hat with Meeka Robinson Davis, owner of One-Of-A-Kind Hats, in the store in the Windsor Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles on November 24, 2020.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Small businesses are finding that they may not have much time to access the paycheck protection program as they thought.

That’s because the money is running out.

Legislators overwhelmingly supported the extension of the PPP last month, postponing the March 31 deadline to May 31. The program, established by the CARES Act last year to provide small business loans that are forgivable when used primarily on payroll, reopened in January for a second round of more than 284 Billion dollars.

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The American rescue plan passed in March provided the PPP with an additional $ 7.25 billion, bringing the total to nearly $ 292 million.

As of April 5, the Small Business Administration, which oversees the program, has approved nearly 4 million PPP loans worth approximately $ 224 billion, according to the agency. That means there is roughly $ 68 billion left.

The idea of ​​running out of money hadn’t crossed my mind, at least in this round of the program, until shortly before the extension. In a March 24 hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business Entrepreneurship, Patrick Kelley, associate administrator at the SBA Office of Capital Access, noted that there is about $ 79 billion left on the PPP, which will be depleted by mid-April would pace if applications were continued with a similar company.

Additionally, at this point the SBA had around 190,000 loans held to fix pending application issues, which continued to draw on the remaining funds.

“This program, as you know, won’t resume until May 30th due to a tight budget,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, the business and technology arm of the American Institute of CPAs. “I don’t think anyone knew the money was going to run out until the SBA made this announcement.”

The bumpy road of the PPP

Although the program has helped millions of companies keep employees on their payroll, the program has been plagued with problems from the start thanks to its rapid adoption. The first round ran out quickly, with the money going mostly to larger, more established companies, leaving out those most at risk.

When the second round opened in January, smaller businesses had better access to funding, but processing times took longer as the SBA introduced new anti-fraud rules.

Further changes created more confusion. In February, the Biden administration announced updates to program eligibility, a new credit calculation formula for sole proprietorships, and a two-week priority application window for companies with fewer than 20 employees.

The aim was to give the smallest companies, which are mostly owned by women and colored people, access to the forgivable means. However, the timing of the new rules left little time for companies to take advantage of them. Additionally, sole proprietorships who applied before the new loan calculation was announced were upset as the difference could be thousands of dollars in forgivable funding.

We have finally reached a point where we have some equity for our hardest-to-reach and most underserved businesses.

Rebecca Shi

President of the American Business Immigration Coalition

By extending the program, these smallest businesses had more time to apply for the loans. Ending it too early or not allocating more funding would mean leaving out more of the most vulnerable companies.

“We’re finally at a point where we have some equity for our hardest-to-reach and most underserved businesses,” said Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, which calls for more funding as well as retroactive credit ups “for sole proprietorships.

Of course, there are signs that the economy is improving and developing from the pandemic. The country created 916,000 jobs in March and vaccinations are increasing. In addition, there are other programs through the SBA to help small businesses that have recently been expanded, such as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

Still, according to Shi, this is not a reason to end the PPP and its futile loans, but perhaps to consider more targeted relief. The pandemic and its economic impact are far from over, especially for smaller businesses that aren’t benefiting from what’s called the K-shaped recovery, Shi said.

More money, more changes

Now lenders and borrowers are calling for more changes to the program. This includes more funding, the possibility of secondary loans for small businesses and the retroactive effect of the new credit calculation formula for sole proprietorships.

Hopefully, if lawmakers vote to round the program out, it will be sooner rather than later, according to Sam Sidhu, chief operating officer of Customers Bank in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

“When you feel like you are running against the clock, you have the fear that existed last April. I may not get that money,” Sidhu said. He estimated that between $ 100 billion and $ 150 billion would be enough to fund the PPP through May 31, with some cash left over.

In the meantime, companies looking to take advantage of the program – especially those who haven’t received PPP money – should apply as soon as possible.

“Businesses don’t know they have to hurry, but they better hurry,” Asgeirsson said, adding that he also fears that lenders will start shutting down their platforms when they run out of money. “It’ll panic people.”

Sarah Foster, 49, runs a jewelry and design business in Prescott, Arizona and is one of the sole proprietors who could have benefited from the new loan formula. Foster applied for a second PPP loan as soon as possible this year and received about $ 5,250 in March.

Sarah Foster applied for a second PPP loan asap. If she had waited, new rules could have increased her loan by $ 9,000.

Sarah Foster

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