Can your business use an infusion of cash to deal with losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The hugely popular federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) that paid forgivable loans to millions of businesses ended on August 8 (although it could come back in revised form). But you can still obtain a low-interest Emergency Income Disaster Loan (EIDL) of up to $150,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Do You Qualify for an EIDL?

You can qualify for an EIDL if your business has fewer than 500 employees and has suffered “substantial economic injury” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You have suffered economic injury if you’re unable to pay your normal business operating expenses and other bills, or to sell or produce your goods or services because of the pandemic.

You can obtain an EIDL even if you already received a PPP loan. However, you may not use the EIDL to pay the same payroll costs or other expenses you pay with a PPP loan.

How Much Can You Borrow?

The SBA is currently capping EIDLs at $150,000. The amount you receive is intended to cover six months of your business operational expenses. For most small businesses, the loan amount is based on gross revenues minus cost of goods sold during the period from February 1, 2019, through January 31, 2020, divided by two.

What Are the Loan Terms?

These are 30-year loans at a 3.75 percent interest rate. You don’t have to make any payments until one year after you receive the loan (interest continues to accrue during the one-year delay). There is no prepayment penalty.

How Do You Apply?

You apply for an EIDL with the SBA, and the loan is funded directly from the U.S. Treasury. Unlike with PPP loans, banks are not involved. You can apply online, and the SBA has created a streamlined application.

Do You Need to Have Collateral or Make Guarantees?

The SBA does not require a personal guarantee for an EIDL of less than $200,000.

Collateral is required only if the loan is over $25,000.

For loans over $25,000, the SBA obtains a security interest in all tangible and intangible property your business owns or acquires, including inventory, equipment, and receivables. The SBA files a UCC-1 lien against your business.

How You Can Use the Money

The money is supposed to be used to help you carry on your business until life gets back to normal. You can use the money to pay normal operating expenses, such as employee salaries and benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments. You can continue to take your owner’s draw for work you actually perform for the business.

But EIDLs are not supposed to be used to replace lost sales, fund business expansion, start a new business, or refinance long-term debt. Nor can you use them to pay yourself dividends or bonuses. As you can see, EIDLs can be a useful source of low-interest financing during these troubled times.