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Hassan Hits The Streets Pushing Her Bill For Student Debt Relief

Senator Hassan Travels Across New Hampshire to Highlight Her First Bill, Which Would Help Ease Burden of Student Debt for Entrepreneurs

CONWAY – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan traveled across New Hampshire to highlight her first bill, the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act, which would provide the student loan debt relief necessary for entrepreneurs to start up and grow small businesses.

Through discussions with students and entrepreneurs at the UNH Entrepreneurship Center in Durham, women entrepreneurs at the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurship Network in Bethlehem, and innovative business leaders at Conway Tech Village, Senator Hassan highlighted how the ROI Act would help entrepreneurs start new businesses by providing them student loan debt relief – and in some cases, student loan debt cancellation.

“The Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act is a common-sense step to help relieve student loan debt and give entrepreneurs the room they need to start up and grow new businesses,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “I appreciated hearing from students and entrepreneurs today about the challenges they face, and discussing how the ROI Act would help them start new businesses in the future. I will work with my colleagues in the United States Senate to move this legislation forward.”

“I was pleased to join Senator Hassan and business leaders from the Mount Washington Valley today to discuss how the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act would drive economic growth in our region,” said Jac Cuddy, Executive Director of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council. “Across the Mount Washington Valley, entrepreneurs are being held back as a result of the burden of student loan debt. Senator Hassan’s ROI Act would provide these young entrepreneurs with key support, while also focusing on revitalizing areas like the Mount Washington Valley. This common-sense legislation is exactly the kind of step we need to be taking to continue growing our economy and supporting innovative businesses.”

“We are seeing more entrepreneurs shy away from starting up their own small business because of the burden posed by high levels student debt,” said Rich Grogan of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center. “The Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act will help address this issue, providing student loan debt relief and giving innovators the freedom and confidence they need to take the risks necessary to start-up and grow small businesses. I am grateful for Senator Hassan’s leadership on the issue and for her commitment to supporting New Hampshire’s small businesses, which serve as the engine of our economy.”

“Working in higher education and entrepreneurship, I frequently hear from students about the financial challenges they face in creating their own businesses because they are bogged down by student loan debt,” said Ian Grant of UNH Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center. “Easing the burden of student loan debt is essential to supporting our young innovators who are eager to turn their ideas into thriving innovative businesses. I commend Senator Hassan for introducing the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act to support our young people, encourage innovation, and in turn, strengthen our state’s economy, and I will be sharing the importance of this bill with my colleagues at entrepreneurship centers at other universities across the country. ”

Read more about the ROI Act here.

Hassan Introduces Student Loan Relief Bill For Young Entrepreneurs

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.

Kuster Hosts College Affordability Forum at ConVal Regional High School

(May 3, 2016 ǀ Rep. Kuster with ConVal High School students following her forum today.)

(May 3, 2016 ǀ Rep. Kuster with ConVal High School students following her forum today.)


Peterborough, NH
 – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a forum at ConVal Regional High School with students, administrators, and community members to discuss the importance of increasing college affordability. The forum gave students and parents a chance to engage with a panel of key stakeholders in the higher education arena, and discuss initiatives aimed at increasing access and reducing the costs of postsecondary education. 

“Everyone knows that a good education is the key to success. Yet far too many families in the Granite State and across the country simply cannot afford to send their children to college, or to fund any postsecondary studies,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “In the land of opportunity, that’s simply not right. That’s why I’ve been working on a number of initiatives to reduce the cost of college, and I’ve held a series of forums at colleges and high schools across the state to bring together stakeholders and families to discuss how we can work collaboratively to ensure families have the support they need to help their children access higher education. I thank all the participants in today’s forum for contributing to a robust discussion about higher education costs, and I look forward to bringing their thoughts and comments back to Washington with me, where I will continue to push for measures on the federal level to increase college affordability.”

Students and parents were invited to attend today’s open forum at ConVal High School, where they were encouraged to share their thoughts about how the federal government can help reduce education costs for Granite State families. Kuster was joined at the forum by a number of local education stakeholders who are also working towards this mutual goal: Tori Berube, the Vice President of College Planning and Engagement at the NH Higher Education Assistance Foundation; Tom Raffio, the Chair of the NH State Board of Education; Mark Rubinstein, the President of the Granite State College; Lizbeth Gonzalez, the Vice President for Student and Community Affairs at Nashua Community College; Karen Shedin, the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Rivier University; and a number of counselors and educators from ConVal Regional High School. During the forum, participants and audience members discussed a number of topics, including college and career readiness, financial aid and grant funding, college planning resources, and dual enrollment programs, among others. 

Kuster has long fought to ensure that all Granite State students can access the college education and job training necessary to further their careers, including through the critical role she played in creating New Hampshire’s UNIQUE College Savings Program. During today’s forum, she outlined current steps she is taking in Congress to help parents save for their children’s education, and measures she is supporting to ensure students are prepared for college, including her support for the recent reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which rectifies many of the flawed provisions implemented under the No Child Left Behind Act. Kuster successfully fought Tea Party attempts to allow student loan interest rates to double back in 2012, and she is currently pushing for legislation that would allow students and their families to refinance their loans at a lower rate. Kuster has held a number of college affordability forums at high schools and colleges across the state, and she works to help students and their families learn about resources that can help them send their children to college.

Millennials Identify Student Debt, Retirement Savings as Barriers to Entrepreneurship

blue bottle cafe (FLIKR Matt Biddulph)

blue bottle cafe (FLIKR Matt Biddulph)

Majority of millennials currently own or would like to own a business someday; identify student loan payments and lack of an employer-sponsored retirement plan as barriers to launching or growing a business

Washington, DC—A scientific opinion poll released today shows the majority of millennials (ages 18-34) who own a business or would like to start one at some point say student debt and lack of a retirement savings plan are barriers to entrepreneurship.

The poll, conducted Nov. 18-25, 2015, by North Star Opinion Research on behalf of Young Invincibles and Small Business Majority, found that the majority of millennials (51 percent) either own a business or organization, are planning to start a business, or would like to but do not currently have plans to do so.

When it comes to starting a business, millennials identify student debt and lack of an employer-sponsored retirement plan as financial barriers to entrepreneurship. Nearly half (48 percent) of millennials paying off student debt who currently own or have plans to own a business say their student loan payments have impacted their ability to start a business. And nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) millennials who are interested in opening a business but have no current plans to do so say their student loan payments affect their ability to start a business.

“Right now, I cover upfront necessities for my business, like insurance and marketing materials, out of my own pocket,” said Amanda Golden, co-owner of Designing Local in Columbus, Ohio. “My loans are currently deferred, but as soon as they’re back on the table, using my own money to cover these costs will be out of the question. Student loans are really a burden that restrain my ability to run my own business. Millennials deserve a fighting chance to start small businesses, but student loans are holding us back.” 

Additionally, of those who are still paying off student loans, 43 percent of those who own or have current plans to own a business, and 38 percent who would like to own a business but have no current business plans, say their student debt affects their ability to invest in an organization or hire new employees.

What’s more, three-quarters (75 percent) of millennials who own, plan to own, or would like to own a business say the lack of an employer-sponsored retirement plan is a barrier to entrepreneurship.

“Millennials show exciting levels of interest in entrepreneurship, yet youth entrepreneurship remains comparatively low,” said Rory O’Sullivan, Deputy Director of Young Invincibles. “This poll makes clear that millennials see student debt as a barrier as they explore a pathway to building their own businesses.”

“Entrepreneurship represents the pathway to success for many millennials, but they face significant hurdles to launching and growing their businesses,” said Conan Knoll, Vice President, Entrepreneurship, for Small Business Majority. “As this poll shows, student debt and lack of a retirement savings plan are a real problem for millennial entrepreneurs. Considering the majority of millennials are or would like to become entrepreneurs, it’s important to address these issues that are holding young Americans back from launching their businesses and helping our economy thrive.”

For the full poll report, please visit: http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/entrepreneurship/millennials

PCCC, Demos Applaud Hillary Clinton’s New College Compact

 (image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

(image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

“Hillary Clinton’s plan is very big and ambitious — leading to debt-free college and increased economic opportunity for millions of Americans. The center of gravity on higher education has shifted from tinkering with interest rates to making college debt free — and Clinton’s bold proposal is emblematic of the rising economic populist tide in American politics.”

— Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee

“With the plan, millions of America’s working families will have access to debt-free public college at both two- and four-year institutions.”

— Tamara Draut, Senior Vice President of Policy and Research, Demos

MSNBC: Clinton’s sweeping new debt-free college plan

by Alexander Seitz-Wald

It’s one of the issues Clinton hears about most on the campaign trail. And at a campaign event in New Hampshire Monday, the former secretary of state will unveil sweeping proposed reforms.

Clinton’s so-called “New College Compact,” detailed in three fact sheets shared with reporters, is the most detailed and expensive plan she has unveiled so far on her 2016 presidential campaign. “Students will be able to attend an in-state public university to get a 4-year degree without ever having to take out a loan for tuition,” one fact sheet claims.

While the tax hike and other issues would likely run into opposition in Congress, Clinton’s campaign wants to cast a marker with the plan. Politically, the effort could energize young voters, who were critical to President Obama’s victory over Clinton in the 2008 primary and then to both his general election wins.

Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has been one of the groups leading the effort for debt-free college, praised the plan. “Hillary Clinton’s plan is very big and ambitious – leading to debt-free college and increased economic opportunity for millions of Americans,” said Green, who has sometimes been critical of Clinton in the past.”

“The center of gravity on higher education has shifted from tinkering with interest rates to making college debt free – and Clinton’s bold proposal is emblematic of the rising economic populist tide in American politics,” he added. …

Politicians have to deal with the issue, said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy fellow at Demos, the New York-based liberal think tank that has been the intellectual driving force behind the idea of debt-free college.

“The benchmark for us has always been that any plan provides a pathway to debt free college or a pathway for a majority of students to graduate without taking on debt. That’s been a galvanizing issue for progressives,” he said. “Unfortunately, voters are responding to their pocketbooks. We like to point out that student debt was not the norm for most students until the 1990s, really. If you wanted a bachelor’s degree for most of our history, you didn’t have to take on debt to do so. Now it’s basically a requirement. And with college becoming more important in the labor market, not less, there’s a lot of anxiety about it.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Hillary Clinton Proposes Debt-Free Tuition at Public Colleges

by Laura Meckler and Josh Mitchell

Hillary Clinton is proposing an expansive program aimed at enabling students to attend public colleges and universities without taking on loans for tuition, her attempt to address a source of anxiety for American families while advancing one of the left’s most sweeping new ideas.

The plan—dubbed the “New College Compact” and estimated to cost $350 billion over 10 years—would fundamentally reshape the federal government’s role in higher education by offering new federal money, but with strings attached. …

The Clinton campaign views this proposal as a centerpiece of its domestic agenda, akin in importance to health care in 2008, and it is her most expensive proposal so far. The campaign said it would pay for it by limiting deductions for upper-income tax filers, which President Barack Obama has repeatedly proposed without success. …

Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has worked to make college affordability a top issue, said he was excited by the plan and sees it as helping to shift the debate over higher education from adjusting interest rates to trying to make college debt free. “Hillary Clinton’s plan is very big and ambitious, leading to debt-free college and increased economic opportunity for millions of Americans,” he said.

Senator Shaheen: College Affordability Is Critical For Strengthening Workforce, Boosting Economy

In a letter to President Obama, Shaheen calls for details on debt management and college affordability

Shaheen-021109-18432- 0009(Washington, DC) – With news reports signaling President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address will include a focus on the rising cost of higher education, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today encouraged the President to work with Congress on a plan to lower student debt and shared some legislative proposals of her own on the issue. In her letter to the President, Shaheen outlined proposals that could help educate students about debt repayment options and better understand their debt situation. Shaheen suggests the development of an online portal that will allow students to review all their public and private student loans as well as repayment options. She is also considering proposals that would call for student loan lenders to offer education and consultations for borrowers that will help them stay on track to repay their loans.

“Keeping college education affordable will help our young people get the skills they need for the jobs that are critical to our economic future,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire students are unfortunately all too familiar with the impact of debt after they finish college and we must take steps to address this crisis that hurts our economy.”

“We must make higher education more affordable and provide students in New Hampshire and around the country with the tools they need to better manage their debt,” Shaheen added.

Throughout her career Shaheen has worked to address the student loan crisis and help make college more affordable. Last year, she voted to maintain low interest rates for Stafford loans which help families pay for college tuition and also supported the Pay As you Earn repayment plan which will make it easier for students to lower their monthly expenses. According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, students across the country hold over $1.2 trillion in student loan debt and in New Hampshire, the Project on Student Debt estimates that 74 percent of New Hampshire students leave school with an average debt of nearly $33,000.

 

The text of Senator Shaheen’s letter is included below:

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500 

Mr. President:

Our nation faces many challenges in the upcoming year, from strengthening the economy and creating jobs, to protecting our nation’s interests throughout the world.  As you prepare your State of the Union address, which will undoubtedly focus on these important issues and others, I encourage you to also outline a plan to address the ongoing crisis in our higher education system, specifically with respect to college affordability and student debt. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that students hold over $1.2 trillion in student loan debt.  These burdens are especially prominent in New Hampshire, where the Project on Student Debt reports that 74 percent of the state’s undergraduates leave school with debt, and carry an average balance of nearly $33,000.  My state ranks second highest for the average amount of debt per graduate.

While I supported legislation signed into law last year to help keep interest rates on undergraduate Stafford student loans affordable for middle class families, we must do more to help students entering the workforce manage their debt.  

Debt management plays an important role in a student’s ability to meet his or her financial obligations.  Too often students are automatically enrolled in a standard 10-year repayment plan which may not suit their unique situation or provide them with the flexibility they need to make their payments. 

In the coming weeks I will be introducing legislation to require the development of an online portal in which students can view all of their public and private student loan debt and have access to a comprehensive list of all of the repayment options available.  A one-stop online loan portal would be an invaluable tool for borrowers. 

I will also be working to enact legislation that would require lenders to perform annual outreach and consultation for borrowers.  This personalized method could help keep students on track to repay their obligations more successfully. 

We all have a responsibility to address the student debt crisis for students in New Hampshire and throughout the country.  I am committed to implementing pragmatic reforms that benefit students and enable them to make wise and educated decisions about their future, and I hope you’ll use tomorrow’s address to outline a similar commitment.  I look forward to working with you on this important issue.  

Sincerely,

 Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

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