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After two rounds, multiple bills, and $670 billion, the Paycheck Protection Program is finally expiring on June 30.
The program was roiled by controversy, hang-ups in Congress over changes to the program, technical issues, and confusing guidelines, but managed to push out billions of dollars to small businesses over the course of less than three months. The loans—which were designed to provide emergency relief to businesses with 500 or fewer employees—topped out at $10 million per loan and could be converted into grants if certain conditions were met.
After the latest unemployment report showed an increase in employment in May (unemployment fell from 14.7% in April down to 13.3% in May), those on Capitol Hill touted the PPP as being a key driver of saving jobs. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-F.L.), the chairman of the Senate’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship committee, declared “Without PPP, we would have faced the extinction of small business as we know it,” he said at a recent oversight hearing. Some groups like the Consumer Bankers Association estimate the PPP may have saved roughly 30 million jobs.
Yet many experts say there are still small many businesses in need of funds, and plenty have reported being unable to access the program (including many Black-owned businesses). That’s vexing because though the program is expiring, there remains a decent bit of cash left in the pot.
As of Tuesday morning, the program has gotten funds to over 4.8 million small businesses, with loans totaling over $519 billion, according to the latest data from the Small Business Administration.
How much money is left?
Based on the latest data from the SBA, there still leaves over $130 billion of unspent funds in the PPP.
The average loan size for the program was $107,738 so far, with 5,458 lenders participating in the taxpayer program, according to the SBA.
Richard Hunt, the president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association (whose members include Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo), noted in a statement Tuesday that larger financial institutions (those with over $10 billion in assets) facilitated roughly 60% of PPP loan volume. “While PPP might be coming to an end today, banks’ commitment to helping their customers and small businesses still struggling from this pandemic will not,” he said in a statement.
Is it too late to apply?
Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes.
Fintechs like Square and Funding Circle have stopped accepting new applications, as have many banks (including national and regional banks). Bank of America says on its website that, “in order to ensure the necessary time for processing, we are no longer accepting new PPP loan applications,” as of June 29. Meanwhile, regional banks like Atlantic Union Bank, based in Virginia, and Sunrise Banks, based in Minnesota, both confirmed to Fortune they are no longer accepting applications and are focusing now on forgiveness.
Ryan Metcalf, head of U.S. regulatory affairs at U.K.-based fintech lender Funding Circle, says the fintech stopped accepting applications on Monday night to ensure everyone who had applied could be processed by the SBA’s E-Tran system. “We don’t want anybody left in our queue,” he tells Fortune. Up through yesterday, Metcalf says the fintech was averaging about 1,500 applications a day (roughly 80% to 90% of the loans were for under $50,000, he says), and that hadn’t changed much even on the eve of the program’s expiration.
Although Metcalf wouldn’t dissuade would-be borrowers from submitting a last-minute application today, he says “I think it’s very unlikely” they’d be able to get an application in.
Nick Simpson, a spokesperson for the Consumer Bankers Association, told Fortune in an email that the “I am sure some banks are still accepting applications but many have already stopped to ensure every application they have received will be processed before the midnight deadline.”
Kevin Kuhlman, the vice president of federal government relations for the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), says the group hosts webinars every Wednesday, and that as of last Wednesday, “there were just a handful of members who were asking if it was still available and how [do they] apply,” he tells Fortune.
The Small Business Administration will stop accepting applications at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the administration confirmed to Fortune.
PPP round 3?
So what will happen to those unused funds? Members of Congress have discussed the possibility of another round of PPP or repurposing the leftover funds to continue serving small businesses’ needs as states start to reopen.
A bill was proposed earlier this month by Senators Ben Cardin (D-M.D.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would give businesses with under 100 employees another shot at the PPP, provided their business had taken at least a 50% hit to revenue during the pandemic, according to the bill, titled the Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program Act. Under the new Act, the loans (called P4 loans in the bill) wouldn’t go to any public companies, but smaller businesses who had already received PPP loans would be able to apply for another loan until December 30 “or longer,” according to the proposal. Another similar bill was also proposed in the House.
Indeed, according to a June survey by the NFIB, some 47% of PPP or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) borrowers said they expect they’ll need “additional financial support” over the next 12 months.
Funding Circle’s Metcalf points to a recent survey the fintech conducted in late May that found 69% of businesses said the PPP loan wasn’t enough to cover business expenses, and says they’ve asked Congress for businesses to be able to get a second PPP loan.
It appears there is consensus on the Hill that businesses need more aid, but a new bill has not yet been passed.
For one, NFIB’s Kuhlman believes “there is both demand and desire for a second round of PPP,” from businesses and Congress, and that he thinks another round “will be a little bit more targeted than the first round of PPP to smaller and more negatively-impacted businesses.”
Indeed, Sen. Cardin said in a statement on June 18 that, “Many small businesses will continue to struggle in the weeks and months to come,” he said in the statement. “Congress must once again act urgently to support our most vulnerable small businesses through this crisis, so our economy can recover as quickly as possible after the pandemic. Every business we prevent from failing now, is a business that will be in a position to create jobs during the recovery.”
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