- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan is sponsoring legislation aimed at helping ease the student debt burden for young entrepreneurs.

Hassan introduced a bill Wednesday that will allow the founders and full-time employees of some small business startups to have their federal student loan payments and interest accrual deferred for up to three years while launching their business. Those who start businesses in economically distressed areas could be eligible for cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loans after making 24 monthly payments.

Hassan, a first-term Democrat, said as student debt has increased, 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,” she said.

The debt relief will be available for startups certified by Small Business Development Centers. The centers are hosted by universities and state economic development agencies and are funded through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Mary Collins, the former state director for the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, said student loans often prevent young people from securing the capital necessary to get a business off the ground. She said Hassan’s bill will help entrepreneurs expand their businesses into engines of the economy.

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