Columbia College to host forum Tuesday about Veterans Affairs loans

Friday, November 6, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Columbia College is hosting a forum for veterans interested in buying a home or starting small businesses using loans from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The forum, which will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dulany Hall on the Columbia College campus, will feature speakers from the Mortgage Research Center and MU's University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

If you go

What: Veterans forum on VA mortgages and small business prospects

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Banquet Room of Dulany Hall, Columbia College, 600 N. Eighth St.

Admission: Free, but attendees are asked to RSVP by e-mailing

This school year, Columbia College started a plan to feature four seminars per year for veterans, said Tery Donelson, assistant vice president for enrollment management at Columbia College. Each forum features topics geared toward veterans' interests. The seminars' attendees and the Veterans Services Committee — made up of veteran students, staff and faculty of Columbia College — cooperate to determine topics for the forums. The first one, held in September, focused on VA educational benefits from the GI Bill.

This forum will explain ways to use VA loans to buy houses or start small businesses. According to Donelson, who served in the Air Force for 26 years, VA loans are ideal because they usually don’t require a down payment to use, as other loans do. They also have comparable interest rates.

Patrick Cox, a specialist at the Mortgage Research Center, will speak about buying houses.

A second part of the forum will address starting small businesses. Finding a job upon graduation can be difficult, Donelson said, so some veterans prefer to use their VA loans to start small businesses. Veterans can use specialized skills they might have learned in the military to help them.

Military skills aren’t limited to shooting guns or flying planes, Donelson said; electrician skills, plumbing and automotive repair are just a few specialties veterans have learned from time in the military and can be useful for starting businesses.

Virginia Wilson, a counselor for the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center, will speak about starting businesses. The center is a division of the University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Although Columbia College is hosting the forum, Donelson said it is open to anyone in the Columbia area. Any veterans interested in buying a home or starting a small business are encouraged to attend but should RSVP by e-mailing Veterans’ spouses are also welcome.

Donelson said about one-third of Columbia College’s 27,000 students nationwide have some affiliation with the military, whether they are veterans, currently serving in the military or relatives of members of the military.

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