Senator Hassan Introduces Bill to Provide Student Loan Debt Relief to Young Entrepreneurs Starting Innovative Small Businesses
WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today introduced the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act, which would help provide the student loan debt relief necessary for young entrepreneurs to start up and grow innovative small businesses.
“As student loan debt levels have risen, the number of young entrepreneurs has declined. To keep our economy growing, we must help relieve the student debt burden that is keeping many young entrepreneurs from launching innovative new businesses,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “The ROI Act will take common-sense steps to decrease the burden of student loan debt and help allow the next generation of entrepreneurs to thrive, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to support entrepreneurs.”
New businesses have historically been the top job creators in the country, but many young people are delaying starting new businesses because of their student loans. The percentage of new entrepreneurs between 20-34 years old fell to 25 percent in 2014, down from almost 35 percent in 1996 according to a New York Times report. Additionally, Gallup found that between 2006-2015, 63 percent of college graduates left school with some amount of student loan debt and, of those, 19 percent say they have delayed starting a business due to their loan debt.
The ROI Act will allow founders and full-time employees of small business start-ups certified by Small Business Development Centers to have their federal student loan payments and interest accrual deferred for up to three years while launching a start-up. If the start-up is located in an economically distressed area, founders and employees who make twenty-four monthly payments will also be eligible for cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loans.
“As the CEO of an organization dedicated to helping startup businesses grow, I have seen firsthand the difficulties young entrepreneurs face when starting a new company,” said Mark Kaplan, CEO of Alpha Loft. “Young people have incredible ideas, but often their student debt prevents them from being able to put idea into action and develop a business that would drive economic growth. Senator Hassan’s ROI Act is an important step toward relieving the burden of student debt on these young people, so they can build the types of companies we know help create the economy – and the workforce – of tomorrow.”
“Young people often struggle to start new businesses, because their student loans prevent them from securing the additional capital necessary to get a business off the ground,” said Mary Collins, Former State Director for the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center. “Senator Hassan’s Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act will allow young entrepreneurs to take the next step into starting a new business, and allow them the room to grow these businesses into the engines of our economy.”
Senator Hassan has long made promoting entrepreneurship and supporting innovative businesses a top priority. During her time as Governor, she laid out and implemented her Innovate NH plan – including working to hold down the cost of higher education, increasing and making permanent the R&D tax credit, and launching the award-winning Live Free and Start initiative. As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Hassan has continued this focus on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting measures to promote women entrepreneurs, increase participation in the STEM fields, and expand access to broadband.
For more information on the ROI Act, click here.