• A person with $30,000 in student loans is 11 percent less likely to start a business than a person who graduated debt-free, according to calculations by Karthik Krishnan, an associate professor of finance at Northeastern University who researches student debt.
  • "It's going to be a big problem as we get to the next decade," Krishnan said. "We're going to see a gradual deterioration in outcomes in economic mobility and start-up activity."

When Ashley Hardin graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography, a former arts college in California, she was saddled with more than $150,000 in student debt.

She tried to launch a photography business, but she couldn't afford all the equipment she needed, or the promotional materials and website expenses. Her monthly student loan bill was more than $1,000.