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Senator Hassan Reintroduces Legislation to Provide Student Loan Debt Relief to Young Entrepreneurs Starting Innovative Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan reintroduced the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act to help provide student loan debt relief to young entrepreneurs starting innovative small businesses. Senator Hassan originally introduced the bill in 2017 and it was the first piece of legislation she introduced in the Senate.


“The burden of student loan debt is preventing bright, innovative young people from starting the type of small businesses that are essential to our economic recovery,” Senator Hassan said. “By providing student loan relief to young entrepreneurs, this commonsense bill will help encourage the growth of new businesses, particularly in economically distressed areas that have suffered even greater losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to once again introduce this legislation to help support small businesses and foster innovation in New Hampshire and across the country.”


“The burden of paying off education debt has been a significant barrier for budding entrepreneurs building and innovating here in NH,” said Joshua Cyr, Senior Director of Startup Initiatives at New Hampshire Tech Alliance. “The earliest stages of starting a new business mean little to no revenue, let alone profit. Salaries for founders are low to focus the available capital and revenue on building the business. This will be tremendously helpful in reducing risk to startup founders and their early employees and focusing their resources on what they need to succeed.”


Although new businesses have historically been the top job creators in the country, many young people today delay starting new businesses because of their student loan debt. A significant number of graduates who leave school with student loan debt have cited their student debt as a reason for delaying starting up a new business. Furthermore, nearly half of young adults who own a business or are interested in owning a business identified student loans as a major barrier to becoming an entrepreneur.


The Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act would help alleviate the burden of student loan debt for innovative young people by allowing founders and full-time employees of startups to defer student debt payments – without accrual of interest – for a three-year period. The bill would also allow founders and full-time employees of startups in economically distressed areas to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt tax-free.


Senator Hassan has long been focused on fostering innovation, supporting the growth of small businesses, and bringing down the cost of higher education. During her time as governor, she laid out and implemented her Innovate NH plan – which included working to hold down the cost of higher education, increasing and making permanent the state R&D tax credit, and launching the award-winning Live Free and Start initiative. She recently joined Senator Todd Young (R-IN) in introducing the bipartisan American Innovation and Jobs Act to support research and development (R&D) investments by innovative small businesses and startups.


The Senator also joined in introducing legislation to fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which would help ensure that millions of teachers, social workers, members of the military, first responders, nurses, public defenders, and other public service professionals will qualify for the loan forgiveness they have earned. Additionally, Senator Hassan joined in introducing legislation that would allow undergraduate borrowers repaying public or private loans to refinance those loans at an interest rate of 3.76 percent.


To read a one pager of the bill, click here. To read the bill text, click here