WASHINGTON — Bankers may find it easier to make small-business loans now that the Small Business Administration increased its guarantee of the 7(a) General Business Loan Guarantee program for applications received after Dec. 21.

The SBA guarantee was raised to 85% from 80% for loans up to $150,000 under the final government spending bill signed by President Clinton on Dec. 21.

The legislation also establishes prepayment charges for 7(a) loans with maturities of 15 years or more when the borrower prepays more than 25% of the outstanding balance during the first three years of the loan’s term.

The prepayment fee is 5% of the prepayment amount in the first year, 3% in the second year, and 1% in the third year.

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