Some small business owners who are waiting for a lifeline in the form of paycheck protection loans as part of the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus package have hoped that a second form of help could keep them at bay. flow in the meantime.

But as demand for federal funds grows, new guidelines and frozen payments from the Small Business Administration on its economic disaster loans and early grants are adding to frustration and fears on Main Street.

Unlike PPP loans which go up to $ 10 million, small business owners can apply for disaster assistance of up to $ 2 million directly through the SBA, with advance grants of $ 10,000 available even more. early. The SBA first said so-called EIDL grants up to $ 10,000 would be available “within three days” of a successful application, but has since changed language to say these advances would be available “within days” of an accepted application.

The SBA’s Massachusetts district office said on Monday that cash advances would be capped at $ 1,000 per employee, up to $ 10,000, a more detailed description of the original “up to $ 10,000” language that the administration had used. But that newsletter has since been removed, adding to the confusion over availability and speed with which these could be sent to businesses.

“Many small businesses made business decisions based on the $ 10,000 advance and were hoping for more speed as outlined in the CARES Act,” said Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. “They understand the limits of government and there would be red tape, but they didn’t expect the rules to change so drastically.”

EIDL aid can be turned into a PPP loan – businesses can benefit from both as long as they are not used for the same thing, and they must be used for approved expenses to be reversed. Like the PPP financing, which government officials initially said could be available “on the same day”, the EIDL grants were also reportedly paid out quickly to struggling companies – both turned out to be largely bogus. .

On Thursday evening, a senior administration official told CNBC that nearly 4 million companies have requested EIDL funding for a total of $ 383 billion, adding that Congress has allocated $ 17 billion to the program. Grant amounts and loan disbursements were not disclosed.

Time is running out for Aaron Gerdeman. Gerdeman is self-employed with no other staff and owns a gym, Core Strong Fitness, in Dublin, Ohio. He applied for the state unemployment program and an EIDL grant. He plans to apply for the PPP loan on Friday when the floodgates open for self-employed workers and independent contractors, with his bank, Chase, hoping something will happen.

“I haven’t had any clients or generated any revenue since March 16. And I’m sitting here waiting to see what happens with the government assistance. I hope we get some of that resolution very soon. “said Gerdeman.

Leaders of major advocacy groups, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, said none of their members, to their knowledge, had received EIDL grants or PPP loans as of Thursday morning. In fact, a new study from the National Federation of Independent Businesses reveals that half of small business owners have applied for EIDL help and almost all have applied for the $ 10,000 grant. Only 4% were approved and 1% were not approved.

“They are increasingly frustrated with the processing of these loans and the lack of communication on when they can expect to receive money if their loan is approved,” the survey revealed.

More generally, the deployment of the PPP itself has been marred by confusion and angst as banks, large and small, rush to process loans with extremely high demand. Business owners wait in lines with their banks for SBA loan approval numbers, with some banks claiming that additional guidance is needed from the SBA to disburse funds.

There have been few companies funded per se, and a senior administration official told CNBC that information on disbursements regarding bank financing in corporate hands was not yet available, although the government gets to work on a new $ 250. billion inflows of support for the program. As of Thursday evening, some 550,000 requests had received e-Tran loan numbers worth about $ 140 billion, with 4,100 lenders participating, up from 1,800 a week ago.

“For businesses with good existing relationships with a lender, we have many reports of franchise owners receiving loan approvals. This is a welcome relief. However, many franchises are crippled by unanswered questions about the loan. loan eligibility and lender requirements, ”the International Franchise Association said in a statement.

Some, like Jason Olsen, got lucky and had a quick loan process. Olsen owns Prestman Auto in Salt Lake City and applied Saturday to his credit union, Mountain America, which he has worked with for 10 years. On Tuesday, it was funded for an $ 890,000 PPP loan. He has not heard of the status of his EIDL scholarship since applying to the SBA. For now, he can keep his 54 employees on the payroll.

“It was a shock, I would say it was 100% due to our banking relationship,” says Olsen. “It’s nice to know that this has moved quickly – we immediately applied to EIDL and heard nothing.”

– With reporting by Hugh Son and Dawn Giel.

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