Updated 04/24/2012 05:53 PM
Obama challenges Congress on student loans in speech at UNC
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
CHAPEL HILL -- President Barack Obama pushed Congress to extend the interest rate cuts for student loans in a speech at UNC-Chapel Hill Tuesday.
He said higher education funding was a bipartisan issue and that Republicans in Congress need to decide on students loans before the interest rate cuts expire in July.
"We're here because somebody somewhere else felt responsibility for something larger," he told the crowd at a full Carmichael Arena. “We have to make college more affordable for young people. That's the bottom line.”
Speaking to a college crowd, he introduced a Twitter hashtag to use when talking about student loans: #DontDoubleMyRate
Obama said America's investment in higher education, through the GI Bill, Pell grants, Stafford loans and work-study programs, made the country a superpower.
He also said keeping college affordable is an economic issue.
"We still got a lot of work to do to rebuild this economy, but I want you to know the degree you earn at UNC will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic promise," said Obama.
Student loans are an issue that hits home for students in Chapel Hill. All colleges in the UNC system will see tuition rise next year, and Chapel Hill will see one of the highest increases. Many said they're relieved to see the president try to keep their education affordable.
Like many of her friends at UNC-Chapel Hill, Lauren Kangas doesn't just worry about passing classes. The freshman has to get a job next year to help pay for those classes.
"I might not be able to study as much," she said. "I have to go do this, do that, worry about doing my financial aid applications and all that."
To help students, the president is urging Congress to take action to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1.
"That interest rate will jump up to 6.8 percent," said Josh Earnest, the president's principal deputy press secretary.
He said there are about 160,000 college students in the Tar Heel State who would be affected.
"This would add about a $1,000 onto the debt load of the typical North Carolina college student," said Earnest.
Americans already owe more on student loans than credit cards. The president wants all students to get a fair shot at an education so they can get the skills they need to get a job.
"Opening up the doors to an affordable education more families, not making it more expensive," said Earnest.
Republican or Democrat, many students like Kangas hope the president's call to action will make a difference.
"I've never seen the president before so I'm really excited to see what he has to say," she said.
Storify of Obama's visit to UNC-Chapel Hill