WASHINGTON — The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has launched a streamlined portal designed to allow borrowers with loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of $150,000 or less to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA.
“The SBA’s new streamlined application portal will simplify forgiveness for millions of our smallest businesses — including many sole proprietors — who used funds from our Paycheck Protection Program loans to survive the pandemic,” says Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman. “The vast majority of businesses waiting for forgiveness have loans under $150,000. These entrepreneurs are busy running their businesses and are challenged by an overly complicated forgiveness process. We need to deliver forgiveness more efficiently so they can get back to enlivening our Main Streets, sustaining our neighborhoods and fueling our nation’s economy.”
The portal, which was activated earlier this month, is intended to help speed relief to more than 6.5 million small businesses that have taken part in the PPP.
In addition to the technology platform, located at https://directforgiveness.sba.gov, the SBA is standing up a PPP customer service team to answer questions and directly assist borrowers with their forgiveness applications. Borrowers who need assistance or have questions can call (877) 552-2692.
“This initiative will allow PPP borrowers to put their concerns of achieving full forgiveness behind them and focus on operating and growing their businesses again,” says Patrick Kelley, associate administrator for SBA’s Office of Capital Access. “We are pleased to be able to assist financial institutions across the U.S. in processing forgiveness applications for small-business owners.”
Direct Forgiveness Through Banks
More than 600 banks across the country have opted in to the direct forgiveness program, which has enabled more than 2.17 million borrowers to apply through the portal, representing 30% of the loans totaling $150,000 or less that have not yet been submitted for forgiveness.
“As one of the leading PPP lenders in the nation, Customers Bank is proud to partner with SBA to deliver responsive digital loan forgiveness service to the small-business borrowers,” says Sam Sidhu, President & CEO of the bank. “The streamlined and efficient SBA PPP loan forgiveness portal will help borrowers and lenders move forward with economic growth and job creation following the pandemic. We encourage other lenders to join Customers Bank and opt-in to the SBA portal.”
The SBA has approved more than 6.5 million loans, totally more than $275 billion, in 2021, with the average loan totaling about $42,000 (compared with $101,000 in 2020). The agency reports that 96% of the loans went to businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
The PPP was established by the CARES Act in 2020, and was among the first COVID-19 small-business economic aid programs. The program has provided more than $798 billion in economic relief to small businesses and nonprofits across the nation.