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How Do I Know What Federal Programs I’m Eligible For?

By Chip Phillips on May 11, 2020

With the variety of existing and new programs available to small businesses during this pandemic, it can be challenging to find out which options your company is eligible for. 

Here are some of the qualification criteria and resources for a number of programs:

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

This program builds on top of the existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program and provides forgivable loans to companies to keep employees on payroll. 


Businesses impacted by coronavirus may be eligible if: 

  • They meet the SBA size standards (either industry-based size standard or alternative size standard)
  • Their NAICS code begins with 72 (Accommodations and Food Service) with more than one physical location (fewer than 500 employees per location)
  • They are sole proprietors, independent contractors, or self-employed individuals

More details on the program can be found at the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance

As of May 6, 2020, SBA will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.


The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).
  • SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.

Learn more about the EIDL program here.

SBA Debt Relief

This program automatically covers all loan payments to borrowers participating in certain SBA programs (7(a), 504, and Microloans in regular servicing status and those disbursed prior to September 27, 2020; PPP loans and disaster loans are not included in this program). 

You can still apply for the qualifying programs: 


In general, businesses must meet size standards, be based in the U.S., be able to repay, and have a sound business purpose to be eligible. To check whether your business is considered small, you will need your business’s 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and 3-year average annual revenue. Each program has different requirements, click here for more details.

Main Street Lending Program

The Main Street Lending Program is a new funding source from the Federal Reserve designed to allow banks to distribute loans more freely.


Main Street is open to businesses with fewer than 15,000 employees or revenue of less than $5 billion.

Learn more about the Main Street Lending Program here.

Counseling and Training Resources

In addition to the eligibility details shared on program websites, small business owners can reach out to their local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Women’s Business Center (WBC), or SCORE mentorship chapter.

  • SBDCs are a national network of nearly 1,000 centers that are located at leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies, and private partners. They provide counseling and training to new and existing businesses. Learn more.
  • WBCs are a national network of more than 100 centers that offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance and mentoring to entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics. In addition to women, WBCs are mandated to serve the needs of underserved entrepreneurs, including low-income entrepreneurs. Learn more.
  • SCORE provides free, confidential business advice through a volunteer network of 10,000+ business experts. Learn more.

Counseling is free through these business partners, and training is provided at a low cost. Find your local resource partner.