Yes, step right in. SBA has done something of great value for the nation’s smallest businesses and their lenders. With more than 90% of the country’s PPP loans under $150,000 chances are you’re beginning to experience one of a lender’s big headaches: application overload. Relief is here. And just in time because many borrowers will soon have to begin making loan payments. SBA has delivered the Direct Forgiveness Portal, a fast, easy way for borrowers to submit forgiveness applications online, and for you to deny or approve them.

Borrowers are most likely confused by the forgiveness process, and the glut of applications might be interfering with a lender’s core business operations. Reviews for the Direct Forgiveness Portal are already showing success. If you’re one of nearly 900 lenders already signed up, congratulations. If not, I strongly encourage it. How it works:

For lenders. Brief rundown.

  • You sign up on your PPP platform. You’re allowed up to 10 participants from your institution.
  • You’ll be notified when a borrower submits an application for forgiveness. Best Practice: Check the Portal periodically.
  • You’ll review the application and issue your forgiveness decision to SBA.
  • Naturally, there are more details, and as we all know, the devil is in the details. Check out SBA’s Launch Guide and the Direct Forgiveness Process in SBA’s PowerPoint for more information.

 For Borrowers. Brief rundown.

  • Getting to the Portal from SBA’s website is like peeling an onion: Start from COVID-19 Relief Options on SBA’s homepage. More Clicks. Many Clicks: One destination. Make it easy. Provide direct access to the Direct Forgiveness Portal and the Borrower User Guide in your communications.
  • review the list of participating lenders.
  • Borrowers whose lender is participating in direct forgiveness, may use the Portal to apply. They enter their information using the online SBA Form 3508S along with their supporting documentation and click “submit.”
  • Borrowers whose lender is not participating must apply through their lender.
  • Borrower Training. The SBA will be running a series of Live Event Borrower education sessions. Share this link your borrowers. Weekly sessions are anticipated.

 Communications. Continued communications to your borrowers are essential. As a first step, SBA provides sample borrower emails in the Launch Guide. You’re free to change the wording. As I’ve suggested, include the link to the online Portal in your emails. Put an article in your newsletter and importantly, feature the PPP Forgiveness Portal on your website with details in the SBA section. Depending on your situation, a news release to your local paper featuring success stories from happy borrowers will cast a wider net. Use any communication tools at your disposal to help spread the word.

 Latest Enhancements.

  • Borrowers who entered their forgiveness amounts incorrectly now get a message within the platform notifying them that they haven’t reached or applied for full forgiveness.
  • Borrowers with participating lenders may use a direct phone line to SBA’s call center 8 a.m.-8 p.m. EDT Monday thru Friday. SBA has increased its call center service to provide limited wait times.

Direct PPP Forgiveness is a great way to do your part in making things easier for borrowers so they can get on with running their businesses. And it’s a great way to relieve some of your work to help save precious time. All designed to help stimulate a growing economy. The flow of information from SBA will continue. Stay tuned!

Lisa Lerner
Senior Associate