PPP Forgiveness barely started, sowing confusion for small businesses

Survey results from a poll of nearly 100 Main Street Alliance members in late September 2020 indicate confusion, delays and frustration with the Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness process. Promoted as forgive-able loans, if funds were spent in prescribed ways, the PPP loan program rolled out through the private lending industry in multiple phases - finally closing in August 2020. Legislation passed after the CARES Act updated the PPP loan rules, timeline and forgiveness process, however much confusions remains.

"Business owners need clarity. If we are to be given a loan we need to know the terms in advance. If we are to be granted funds we need to know in advance the funds will be a grant. There should never be a question about this basic fundamental fact," said MSA-NJ Member Tony Sandkamp in the comment section of the survey.

Some key results from our member survey include:

  • 39% said the have tried to start the process, but their bank is not ready

  • 80% have received messages from their bank about the process 

  • Of those who received communication from their bank, just over half said the information was timely and clear, 67% said informative. 12% it was neither timely, informative nor clear.

  • The number one concern was that the process was not clear (68%) followed closely by if they would get their loan forgiven (62%)

  • 43% are concerned they will have no recourse to dispute

  • Over a third (36%) are concerned that the length of the process means they are sitting on potential debt, affecting creditworthiness

  • The top three areas of confusion are - all at over half of respondents:
    • Not understanding what is eligible for forgiveness with the changes in the program (64%)
    • Not understanding the timeline for forgiveness (60%)
    • Not understanding what documents are needed for forgiveness (55%)

  • 91% support automatic forgiveness for PPP loans under 150K

  • 89% support a second draw of PPP, but 44% of those would prefer a grant program 

Read more in Vox about this survey, and small business owners experience.