SBA Offers No-Fee Loans to Veterans
By Katerina Athanasiou
The U.S. Small Business Administration has unveiled a new initiative to help veterans open or expand businesses: Beginning January 1, 2014, there will be no upfront fee for veterans receiving loans via the SBA Express program.
The Express program is the SBA’s most popular loan delivery method and supports loans up to $350,000. Typically, borrowers are required to pay 2.25% to 4.75% upfront for loans between $150,000 and $300,000; recently, the agency announced they will waive fees on loans under $150,000 in 2014.
“Our nation’s veterans are highly-skilled and highly-trained leaders in their communities, and so it makes sense that after serving their country veterans would become entrepreneurs and small business owners,” SBA official Rhett Jeppson said in an online statement.
Veterans currently own 9.1 percent of all businesses in the United States, and there is about one veteran-owned firm for every 10 vets. Of all business owners under the age of 35, 7.1 percent were veterans in 2012, up from 4.6 percent in 2008.
Entrepreneurship can offer veterans a means of employment in an otherwise tough economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. was 7.3 percent in October 2013. The unemployment rate for all veterans during that period was 8 percent, and 10 percent for those serving after September 2011.
In addition to the Express loans, the SBA also offers veteran mentoring, financial information, and grants to help them launch and grow their ventures.