become entrepreneurs. And millions of others who have been out of school for years are in the same unhappy place.
Ashley Rodriguez and her husband, Alex, a manager with a wine and spirits company, would like to start a restaurant. But Rodriguez graduated from the University of Miami in 2008 with $72,000 in loans. She still owes about $53,000, with payments of more than $400 a month.
“We would need to have a certain net worth, a certain amount of disposable income that we just don’t have at this point,” says Rodriguez, an account executive with the public relations firm Fish Consulting in Washington, D.C. She expects it will take another 11 years to pay off all her debt, putting off her husband’s dream.
Concerns about the impact on the economy from the nation’s collective $1.3 trillion in student loan debt have prompted the federal government, states and some schools to offer debt forgiveness or relief programs. Student loans that can run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars prevent many people from buying homes or raising families, in addition to stopping them from becoming entrepreneurs. A 2015 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that higher student debt curtailed the formation of new businesses with one to four employees. And in a 2014 survey by Gallup and Purdue University, 25 percent of recent graduates with student loans more than $25,001 said their debt forced them to delay starting a company.