Hillary Clinton proposes student loan debt forgiveness for young entrepreneurs during Denver visit

Donald Trump speaks in Denver on Friday
Posted at 5:32 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-28 19:32:36-04

During a visit to a Denver incubator for entrepreneurs and start-ups Tuesday, Hillary Clinton proposed allowing entrepreneurs to defer making student loan payments and even apply for debt forgiveness.

"My goal is we build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told young entrepreneurs at Galvanize Denver, a co-working space for start-ups that offers tech-focused education and training opportunities.

"That's why today I am releasing a comprehensive plan to keep America on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It is one of our biggest assets and I want it to be democratized," Clinton said.

To encourage innovation, she said she would permit start-up founders to forgo payments on their federal student loans for up to three years.

"It can be a lot harder [for entrepreneurs] if you're juggling student loan payments, and that can cut into … what kind of risk you think you can take," she said.

In addition to deferring student loan payments, Clinton said, "If you get that enterprise up and going, we want to forgive a portion of your debt because you've become a job-creator and we need more job-creators and we need more young people starting businesses."

Those who launch businesses could apply for forgiveness of up to $17,500 of their debt after five years, the Clinton campaign told The Associated Press. Along with start-up founders, the three-year loan deferment would also be available for early employees of the business.

To combat a disparity in technology access for people who live rural and urban communities, Clinton also proposed connecting every household in America to high-speed internet by 2020.

Clinton also wants to train 50,000 new computer science teachers over the next decade, the campaign told AP.

The audience applauded when Clinton said the goal is for every young person in the country to get an opportunity to learn computer science before they graduate from high school. These are high-tech "skills to help people compete and succeed in the global economy," she said.

She told people at Galvanize "I'm really am taken by the [incubator's] model and want to do everything I can to lift it up and create more pathways for more people to have these opportunities." Galvanize has two campuses in Denver and one in Boulder, along with six other campuses spread across New York, Texas, California, Arizona and Washington state.

"I am on a mission to find what works…and how we do more of it," Clinton said.

She also got in a jab at the signature vow of her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, to "Make America great again."

"I want America to get back in the future business, "Clinton said. "You know, saying that you want to make America great again is code for saying we want to go back to the way it used to be -- forget about technology, forget about inclusivity, forget about giving everybody an opportunity to have a real shot at the best possible future. Well that is not who we are as Americans. We do not go back, we go forward."

Trump likely to offer his critique of Clinton when he visits Denver Friday to speak at the Western Conservative Summit.     

Earlier, Clinton had met with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and they discussed the workforce planning that is going on in the state.

She said Colorado was making "smart investments in technology and innovation and helping create a lot of good jobs."

"It's not an accident that Denver and Colorado in general have a lower than average unemployment rate because there are opportunities here and there are magnets of jobs and futures that people are drawn by….We are going to continue to build on that," Clinton added.

Clinton said she nearly a quarter of employees in the Denver and Colorado Springs areas now work in science, technology and engineering fields.