Small Business Owners Frustrated With New SBA Loan Application Process

The new Paycheck Protection Program makes $349 billion in loans available to small businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Posted at 1:30 PM, Apr 07, 2020

Small business owners say the rollout of a new federal loan program was plagued by confusion and frustration.

"The bank can't or won't process it, and nobody seems to know what to do. It's extremely frustrating," said Philip Holloway, a small business owner. 

Philip Holloway owns a small law firm in Georgia. He was closely following news about the Small Business Administration's new Paycheck Protection Program, which makes $349 billion in loans available to small businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The SBA started accepting applications for PPP loans on April 3, but not all of the nation's banks were ready to go.

"The money itself is first come, first serve money, which is why I've been preparing all week to make sure that I don't get left high and dry," Holloway said.

Despite his preparations, Holloway wasn't able to apply on day one. His bank told him it was "working diligently to open up [its] application" to more clients.

And Holloway isn't alone. While many community banks were ready to take applications on Friday, some of the country's biggest financial institutions were not. Those that were limited who could apply.

Bank of America, for example, started accepting applications Friday morning, but only from small business clients with existing borrowing relationships. A bank spokesman told Newsy that eligibility requirement allowed it to process applications faster. And in the first 24 hours, Bank of America processed 106,000 applications that included more than $26 billion in loan requests. 

Over the weekend, Bank of America and others started accepting applications from a larger pool of small business customers. That gradual expansion at Holloway's bank eventually allowed him to apply for a PPP loan on Sunday. 

But banks and the federal government are still working out the kinks for these new coronavirus relief loans. Holloway says he's going to do whatever he can to make sure this becomes a teachable moment.

"I've tweeted at the president. I've tweeted at the secretary of the Treasury. I've tweeted at my bank. And I’m going to do everything I can to try to make sure that voices like mine are heard. ... And if this ever happens again, we want to all make sure that it's done right the next time," Holloway said.