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Effective Friday, the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) has increased the amount that can be borrowed through their Quick Assist Loan program to $500.

“The Quick Assist Loan program is offered at Naval Support Activity Bethesda,” said NMCRS Bethesda Director Gillian Connon. “You can only get a Quick Assist Loan at a full-service office, and we are the full-service office for the National Capital Area.”

The NMCRS branch at Bethesda offers many services for active duty and retired Sailors and Marines, retired reservists and eligible family members, but the Quick Assist Loan is only available for Sailors and Marines who have a need for immediate cash assistance.

“If you should have a car accident that requires unexpected repairs, for example, or something happens in your family where you need groceries or a plane ticket home - it’s a quick, no-questions asked solution that will get you the money that you need and get you on your way,” said Connon.

What makes this loan unique compared to the alternatives is the terms of repayment, she said.

“There is no interest on the Quick Assist Loan,” she continued. “I’ve seen the competition, a payday lender out in town, start at rates of 36 percent and go up to the moon. I’ve also seen a 520 percent interest loan offered locally.”

Jenna Grotler, a client services assistant at NMCRS Bethesda, said there’s no comparison between the Quick Assist Loan and the alternatives.

“It’s way better than going out in town because it is 0 percent interest and no questions asked, and there’s no command involvement,” said Grotler. “It’s really that simple.”

Maj. Gen. Carl Jensen, USMC (Ret), Executive Vice President, NMCRS, said the Quick Assist Loan program is designed to provide direct relief to service members who are struggling financially.

“This program is our best defense against questionable payday lenders who create a cycle of debt with triple-digit interest and short-term repayments that adversely impact our service members and their families,” said Jensen.

So just how ‘quick’ is the Quick Assist Loan? Most loans can be processed on a walk-in basis in less than 15 minutes, and they can be borrowed up to twice a year, said Connon. However, the NMCRS is about more than just providing short-term solutions. The organization’s goal is to financially educate Sailors and Marines, she added. Financial budgeting is offered to individuals for free, and is required if a person should request a third Quick Assist Loan.

“When you sit down with us as a counselor, we’re not judging anyone based on their budget. Everyone has to live within their budget. My place is to educate you: to show you what it is today, where you can be tomorrow and where you can be beyond that.”

A Sailor or Marine who is interested in a Quick Assist Loan can find the form online at www.nmcrs.org, or just stop by the local office.

“And hopefully, you will discover that we are helpful, friendly, non-judgmental, and we really want to help teach you about your finances,” said Connon.

NMCRS Bethesda is located in Building 11, Room 118 at Naval Support Activity Bethesda. A NMCRS representative can also be reached by phone at 301   -295-1207.