How Student Debt Puts a Drag on Entrepreneurship

Student loan debt is keeping almost half of soon-to-be college graduates from becoming entrepreneurs according to a new survey from personal finance website ValuePenguin.com, which looked at the entrepreneurial ambitions of college students graduating in the next 12 months.

These findings reflect broader entrepreneurship trends. New businesses started by 20- to 34-year-olds have declined from 34.3 percent in 1996 to 25.5 percent in 2017.

Meanwhile, student loan debt has increased 114 percent over the past decade, with students graduating with an average of $32,731 in student loans according to ValuePenguin.com research.

Key findings:

Student loans are the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship: 76 percent of the college students surveyed want to start their own business but identified student loans as their biggest barrier to business ownership. 47 percent of soon-to-be graduates say student loans are keeping them from starting a business after graduating.

Entrepreneurial students in public colleges are the most discouraged by student loans: 51 percent of four-year public college students identified student loans as their biggest barrier to entrepreneurship.

Comparatively, 48 percent of for-profit private college students, 46 percent of four-year private college students and 35 percent of two-year college students saw student loans as their biggest barrier to entrepreneurship.

Students in the Northeast are most burdened by student loans: 56 percent of college students in the Northeast point to student loans as the biggest to starting a business, compared to 53 percent of students in the West, 50 percent of students in the Midwest, and 39 percent of students in the South.

ValuePenguin.com analysts conducted the survey from April 15 to May 6, 2019, and collected 618 responses from college students across the country who are graduating college in the next 12 months and are financing their education with student loans and want to start their own business.

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