One of the byproducts of the student loan debt problem in the U.S. is a lack of entrepreneurship among young college graduates. After all, starting a business is made difficult for graduates facing student loan debt of around $28,400 on average.
Aiming to combat this is Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. By rolling out a new program dubbed “Anderson Now,” the university will pay a sizable amount of the student loans of ten graduates of Indiana schools who start a business in the local community. The move isn’t surprising given graduates in Indiana have average student loan debt of $28,852, higher than the national average of $28,400, according to LendEDU. Close to 60 percent of college graduates in the state have at least one student loan.
Under the program, Anderson University will pay up to $25,000 in student debt to graduates that are willing to relocate or start businesses from scratch in Anderson. “We are ripe for entrepreneurial activity and so we’re trying to get the attention of Indiana graduates who might not think to come to Anderson, Indiana to establish a new business but really can experience a lot of benefits from coming here,” Program Director Deborah Miller Fox said in an interview on WWLP.com.
Anderson University is teaming up with the City of Anderson and the Flagship Enterprise Center’s Micro Loan Program to make the incentive possible. In addition to getting up to $25,000 in student loan debt reductions, the graduates get access to experts to help grow their business. There’s also technical support and access to affordable housing as part of the plan. Fox told the WWLP.com the support is designed to help the entrepreneurs not feel isolated. “Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely business, a lonely life,” said Fox in the report.
In order to be eligible for the program the students must be graduates of a four-year college or university in the state, have a real business plan and student loans. The participants also have to fill out a loan application and undergo interviews by the advisory team for the Anderson Now program. Only ten entrepreneurs will be accepted in the first round, but it could expand in the future, noted the report.
The move on the part of Anderson University and the city of Anderson comes at a time when student loan debt is having a big impact on millennial entrepreneurs around the country. According to a recent Young Invincibles survey, young people account for only 23 percent of entrepreneurs. That’s down nearly half from twenty years ago when young people represented 51 percent of entrepreneurs.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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