More than $350 billion in forgivable federal loan payments are expected to be available starting Friday, providing critical aid to small businesses, including some advisors, who need the assistance to stay in business during the COVID-19 crisis.

For advisors who need to determine how much they and their clients may apply for—and possibly have completely or partially forgiven—a new guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be of help.

The chamber’s guide details the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative passed last week as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES)) Act. The loan program is designed to provide 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses during the crisis.

The guide “ensures small business owners fully understand what aid is available to them and how to access those funds as quickly as possible. We remain committed to ensuring no family or business goes bankrupt due to financial hardships associated with the coronavirus,” said U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark.

The loans are designed to cover eight weeks of a business's payroll, and a business can receive a loan of up to $10 million under the program, the chamber said.

A business is eligible for a loan up to two and half times the borrower’s average monthly payroll costs, not to exceed $10 million, if a small business has fewer than 500 employees, according to the chamber guide.

In addition to payroll, the costs that can be added into the loan amount include the following:
• Interest on the mortgage obligation incurred in the ordinary course of business.
• Rent on a leasing agreement.
• Payments on utilities.

Businesses can not include in payroll determinations the compensation of any employee who earn more than $100,000 per year. Businesses must also exclude payroll taxes, income taxes and railroad retirement taxes.

Beyond survival, the lure of the loan program includes up to 100% loan forgiveness for businesses. The amount forgiven will be reduced if the business has laid off workers or reduced salaries or other compensation.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Fox Business that the loans should be able to cover about 50% of the private workforce.

"This is a very effective way that the president has designed for us to keep people at work so that when the economy opens up, they're ready, and small businesses have their employees and are open for business," he said.