The CARES Act: A small business loan overview

April 2, 2020

In response to the American economy reeling from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the federal government recently signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Among other provisions, the CARES Act provides businesses suffering under the debilitating effects of the pandemic with unprecedented access to emergency loans.

The CARES Act is the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history and promises to provide help for struggling American families and businesses. Specifically, the act includes the following provisions.

  • The act includes nearly $350 billion for a federal small business loan program called the Paycheck Protection Program. The program is designed to get cash in the hands of suffering small businesses quickly with less stringent eligibility requirements than the existing U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) loan programs. Paycheck Protection Program loans are designed to incentivize business owners to keep employees on payroll.
  • In addition to businesses already eligible for SBA programs, most businesses with 500 or fewer employees are now eligible for disaster loans of up to $2 million for working capital. Those businesses will also be eligible for an emergency cash advance of $10,000 within days of making the application, which is not repayable even if their loan application is denied.

As noted above, the CARES Act provides two main avenues for obtaining a business loan:

  • Through the Paycheck Protection Program
  • Through the SBA as a disaster loan.

Click here to read an overview of the eligibility requirements, key loan terms, and how to apply for each program.