How Do I Apply for Federal Loans?

By Chip Phillips on May 11, 2020

You can apply for most federal loans through your local bank or credit union. If you have an established relationship with a particular bank, you can reach out to them for assistance with navigating and completing the application process.

The Small Business Administration also has a resource to help you locate nearby lenders, particularly those who can help apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (and other SBA loans).

Here are some details on how to apply for federal loans loans and 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. 

Application Info

You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.


The initial pool of PPP money ran out on April 16, 2020, but was re-funded on April 24, with new applications accepted starting on April 27. As of May 1, the PPP is still open for new applications. 

Learn more about the PPP.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance

As of May 6, 2020, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Learn more about the EIDL program here.

Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.

Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the Loan Advance here.

SBA Loans

The SBA provides a number of different types of loans with different eligibility rules. 

You can still apply for the qualifying programs: 

  • 7(a): Provides up to $5 million for borrowers who lack credit elsewhere. Find out more about the different types or find a lender near you
  • 504: Provides up to $5.5 million to approved small businesses so they can invest in real estate, expand, or modernize.You apply through a Certified Development Company, which is a nonprofit corporation that promotes economic development.  Find a lender near you
  • Microloan: Provides up to $50,000 to help with start-up and expansion costs. These loans come through mission-based lenders who also provide business counseling. Find a lender near you

SBA Express Bridge Loans

For businesses who already have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender, this program provides quick access to up to $25,000, largely to provide support while awaiting other assistance. This loan must be repaid (at least in part) by the proceeds from an EIDL loan. 

Learn more about SBA Express Bridge Loans

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. For loans within this program, the Federal Reserve purchases 95% of the loan, with loan terms spanning 4 years and $0.5-25 million.  

Note: These terms were changed by the Federal Reserve on April 30, 2020. 

Application Info

Like the SBA loans, applying for a Main Street loan starts with an eligible bank. Contact your local lender to ask about applying. 

Learn more about the Main Street Lending Program.