Chapel Hill, NC - President Barack Obama traveled to Chapel Hill on Tuesday to speak about his plan to prevent interest rates on students loans from doubling, while also courting the crucial youth vote in North Carolina.
"I don't want this to be a country where a shrinking number of americans are doing really really well, but a shrinking number of americans are just struggling to get by," the President said.
In a speech on Wednesday, Pres. Obama pushed Congress to extend a law that keeps the rate for Stafford Loans, one of the most popular version of student loans, from doubling from 3.4% to 6.8%.
The Department of Education estimates that more than seven million students would be financially hurt by the rate hike, costing students an extra $1,000 dollars.
"Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards," said President Obama.
Keeping the interest rate low, however, would cost the government $6 billion every year.
Student Kristy Gilsdorf was among hundreds of students who waited in line on Monday for tickets to hear the President speak Tuesday.
Gilsdorf told News 2, "The interest rate doubling is definitely going to impact me, I'm a graduate student and I'm graduating soon, and I'm going to have to start making those payments, and I don't have a job.
President Obama told the group that he knows what it's like to be buried in student loan debt. "Michelle and I have been in your shoes. We didn't come from wealthy families. When we graduated from college and law school we had a mountain of debt. When we married, we got poor together." President Obama says he and Michelle Obama only paid off their student loan debt within the past eight years.
President Obama also the youth vote while in North Carolina. He carried North Carolina by less than 15,000 votes in 2008, and won nearly three quarters of voters age 18 to 29.
The President is hoping his message to keep the interest rate for student loans low will resonate with students, and propel him to victory in November.
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is also courting the youth vote, telling reporters in advance of the President's trip that President Obama had failed young voters because he hasn't been able to create enough jobs for college graduates.