Washington, DC – April 12, 2017
The Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) applauds New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan (D) for introducing the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act to help alleviate student debt by supporting young entrepreneurs to grow small businesses. Young entrepreneurs have declined while student loan debt has sharply risen. The act would help entrepreneurs reduce federal student loan debt by allowing deferment of loan payments and interest accrual as well as eligibility for $20,000 in debt cancellation by locating the start-up in economically distressed areas.
“We praise Senator Hassan for her continued support of students and recognition that young people are important innovators in business and the economy,” said HEVGA President Constance Steinkuehler. “For young entrepreneurs hoping to start-up a games studio or games related organization in the tech industry, student loan debt is a major obstacle and can result in delays or complete abandonment of a start-up for fear of defaulting on loans or not being able to secure capital above their own resources.”
“New York’s recent decision to offer free tuition to full-time students at two- and four-year SUNY/CUNY schools for families making $125,000 or less clearly shows the growing interest and need to address soaring student debt. Senator Hassan’s bill simultaneously works to alleviate debt while also growing our economy,” said Andy Phelps, HEVGA Treasurer. “Similarly, state-funded efforts to establish regional interactive gaming hubs at NYU, RPI, and RIT, as well as state support of the RIT MAGIC Spell Studios effort, speak to continued investment in university-based commercialization and entrepreneurship efforts. Programs such as these are critical if we are to continue the growth of games and media as a critical STEM sector of the national economy.
“Our reports show that alumni of games-based programs in higher education do well on the job market, leading to high-paying jobs where the average salary for a full-time position is $76,200 and 82.9% of graduates describe themselves as “thriving” at work,” said Katherine Isbister, HEVGA Communications and Outreach Officer. “Many alumni go on to found or work in start-ups or small studios in the multi-billion dollar games industry, a driver of economic activity and innovation. The ROI Act would provide our graduates with crucial support towards alleviating the financial worry that comes with student loan debt and help encourage the growth of small businesses in the games industry, leading to a more creative workforce, job creation, and well-paid positions. We praise Senator Hassan for introducing this bill.”
The Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) is the professional organization for video games scholars and programs at universities across the country and abroad. Our mission is to create a platform for higher education leaders which will underscore the cultural, scientific, and economic importance of video game programs in colleges and universities. The key is to create a robust network of resources–including unified advocacy, policymaker engagement, media coverage, and external funding–in order to incubate and harness the impact of this community in a 21st century learning environment. For more information, please visit www.hevga.org