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Freelancer? Independent contractor? You're eligible for this $1,000 grant from the government

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Update: The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program, a federal measure offering grants of up to $10,000 to entrepreneurs, has ended after reaching the $20 billion funding limit allowed by Congress, the Small Business Administration has announced. Read that story here

One of the small-business loan relief programs included in the historic stimulus package Congress passed in March contains a provision that many gig workers and freelancers might have overlooked.

They're eligible for a $1,000 grant that doesn't need to be repaid.

Here's how it works: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, small-business owners who have lost revenue can apply with the Small Business Administration for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $150,000.

Now, there's another provision of the EIDL program, called the advance, under which small-business owners can collect a $1,000 grant per employee for up to 10 employees, or $10,000. And those funds don't need to be repaid. 

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If you don't have employees and are a sole proprietor, freelancer or independent contractor, you still can apply for a $1,000 grant for yourself. You don't even have to prove that you've been personally impacted by the crisis to qualify. 

During the pandemic, Eli (he asked to use his first name only), a freelance writer in Brooklyn, New York, has found it harder to get articles published. "Places are taking fewer freelance pieces," he said. "Editors are getting fired left and right."

When Eli's cousin told him about the grant option, he was skeptical. Still, he filled out the application in a few minutes, he said, "and then a few days later, you see $1,000 in your bank account." 

Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy, a blog and podcast for drivers, said he's heard from hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers who've been approved for the grant. 

This Uber Eats driver made over $8,000 in a month working 12-hour days

"The application is relatively easy," Campbell said. "A $1,000 grant can go a long way right now for many." 

Because the program requires a loan application, many people may not realize there's a grant component that doesn't need to be repaid. And freelancers and independent contractors might not know they're included in the small-business category. 

Although you technically have to apply for the loan to get the grant, you don't have to accept the loan. Once you get approved for it, you should automatically receive the $1,000 grant in your bank account (the application asks for your account number and bank routing number). And just don't accept the loan. 

Make sure you check the box under "additional information" that says, "I would like to be considered for an advance up to $10,000."

You'll also want to keep records of how you spent the $1,000, in case the SBA asks you for them. The advances are supposed to be sent out within three days, though a high volume in applications has resulted in delays. 

If you've applied for an EIDL loan and/or grant and want to talk about your experience doing so, email me at 

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.