According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), Veterans are 45% more likely to start their own business. The desire to choose their own path, website like this instead of following orders, search and the confidence gained from a career filled with mission accomplishment all factor in to Veterans choosing the entrepreneurial path. Additionally, the Veteran unemployment rate that consistently remains near 10% makes starting a business more attractive. And beginning next year, Veteran entrepreneurs will have an easier beginning on their path to financial independence.

The SBA recently announced that beginning January 1, 2014, through the end of the fiscal year, the borrower upfront fee will be set at zero for all Veteran loans that are authorized under the SBA Express program. While SBA Express only supports loans that are $350,000 or less,  the SBA Express Loan Program is the SBA’s most commonly used loan program. Approximately 60% of all 7(a) loans over the past 10 years have come through the SBA Express Loan Program.

Those eligible for the SBA Express Loan include: Veterans (other than those who were dishonorably discharged), active-duty service members who have completed the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), reservists, National Guard members, any spouse of the previously stated, or any widowed spouse of a service member who died while in service or of a service-connected disability.

Like all 7(a) loans, Express loans are granted to businesses, not individuals. Eligible Veterans or spouses must own and control 51% of the business or more in order to qualify.

In addition to loans, the SBA provides Veteran entrepreneurs with access to small-business counseling and training, focusing on how to develop your small business through opportunities such as government contracts. In 2013, SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 Veteran-owned small businesses.  For more information about zero-fee SBA Express loans and other programs and benefits, visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov, or contact your local SBA field office.