Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability & Student Loans Interest Rates Doubling at the University of Iowa

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks to Students in Iowa about Student Loan Rates

Source: WH, 4-25-12<

President Barack Obama Listens to Senior Marissa Boles During a Roundtable Discussion

President Barack Obama listens to senior Marissa Boles during a roundtable discussion with students currently receiving Stafford federal student loans at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, April 25, 2012. Also participating in the discussion were students Blake Anderson, center, Myranda Burnett, Jordan Garrsion-Nickerson and Martin Lopez. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama wrapped up a three-city tour in Iowa today by speaking to students at the University of Iowa about the best tool they’ve got for achieving the American promise: a college education.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who’s willing to work for it. That’s part of what made us special. That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine. That’s a commitment that we need to reaffirm today.

Now, here’s the challenge we’ve got. Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled. And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt. The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt. And in this state, it’s even higher. Americans now owe more on their student loans than they owe on credit cards.

And living with that debt means you’ve got to make some pretty tough choices. It might mean putting off buying a first home or chasing that great startup idea that you’ve got. Maybe you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to start a family or save for retirement. And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough on middle-class families — that’s not good for our economy, because that money that could be going into businesses is going just to service debt.

To make matters worse, interest rates on federal Stafford loans are set to double in July, saddling more than 7 million students with an additional $1,000 in debt. Congress has the power to stop this from happening, however, and as he did in North Carolina and Colorado earlier this week, the President asked students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t Double My Rate.

Raise your voice and reach out to your networks if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1.


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa

1:28 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Hawkeyes!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Iowa!  (Applause.)  Can folks please give it up for Blake for that outstanding introduction?  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the University of Iowa Pep Band for firing everybody up. (Applause.)

There is some good hospitality here, and I should know.  I spent a little time here in Iowa, spent a little time here in Iowa City.  I’m glad that my hometown of Chicago will get to return the hospitality when your football team kicks off its season at Soldier Field.  (Applause.)

I want to thank a couple guests — first of all, your Congressman, Dave Loebsack, is here.  (Applause.)  Attorney General Tom Miller.  (Applause.)  State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Matt Hayek.  (Applause.)   The President of the University of Iowa, Sally Mason.  (Applause.)

So I have come to the University of Iowa to talk a little bit about you and some of the issues you guys are dealing with every single day.  Now, I believe that college isn’t just the best investment that you can make in your future — it’s the best investment you can make in your country’s future.  And I’m proud of all of you for making that investment — because it’s never been more important.  (Applause.)

In today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  That’s at the top.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma. A higher education is the single clearest path to the middle class.

I know that those of you who are about to graduate are wondering what’s in store for your future — because not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus, and now, four years later, you’re looking at what it means when you leave this campus.

The good news is, today our economy is recovering.  That’s the good news.  (Applause.)  But I’ll be honest with you.  It has not yet fully healed from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years.  (Applause.)  But there’s still a lot of Americans who are out there looking for a job or at least finding a job that pays the bills and helps cover the mortgage.  There’s still too many families who don’t have that security, that basic middle-class security that started slipping away even before this crisis hit.

But what I want all of you to know is that the degree you earn from Iowa will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise — the idea that if you work hard, if you give it your all, if you’re responsible, then you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little away for retirement.  It’s the idea that each generation is going to have a little more opportunity than the last.  (Applause.)  That’s at the heart of the American Dream.

And I can tell you, as a parent now, when I see Malia and Sasha doing well, there’s nothing more important to me.  And that’s true for American families everywhere, and it’s the hope your parents have for you.  That’s the hope you’ll have some day for your own kids.  And keeping that promise alive is the defining issue of our time.  I don’t want this a country — I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of people are doing really, really well, and then a growing number are barely able to get by.  I don’t want that future for you.  I don’t want it for my daughters.  I don’t want it for America.  (Applause.)

I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know.  That’s the America I love.  And that’s the America within our reach if we work for it.  (Applause.)

And this is personal for me —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Barack!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)  I love you guys, and I believe in you guys — that’s the most important thing.  I believe in you.  And I believe in your future.  (Applause.)

And I think about my own life.  My grandfather had the chance to go to college because this country decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it through the GI Bill.  (Applause.)  My mom was a single mom — my dad wasn’t around — and she raised two kids by herself with some help from my grandparents because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  And I’m only here today, and Michelle is only where she is today, because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.  That’s how we succeeded.  (Applause.)

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who’s willing to work for it.  That’s part of what made us special.  That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  That’s a commitment that we need to reaffirm today.

Now, here’s the challenge we’ve got.  Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt.  And in this state, it’s even higher.  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they owe on credit cards.

And living with that debt means you’ve got to make some pretty tough choices.  It might mean putting off buying a first home or chasing that great startup idea that you’ve got.  Maybe you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to start a family or save for retirement.  And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough on middle-class families — that’s not good for our economy, because that money that could be going into businesses is going just to service debt.

And as I said, this is personal for me.  I know something about this, because Michelle and I, we went through it.  And it wasn’t that long ago.  We’ve been in your shoes.  We didn’t come from wealthy families.  We needed loans and we needed grants to get our way through.  (Applause.)

And that meant that when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt.  When we got married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  So we combined our assets and they were zero.  (Laughter.)  Then we combined our liabilities and they were a lot.  (Laughter.)  So we ended up paying more for our student loans in the first few years that we were married than we paid on our mortgage each month when we finally bought a small condo.  And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income, but we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m the President of the United States — (laughter) — it was only about eight years ago that we finished paying off our student loans.  (Applause.)

And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy making those payments, because once we had Malia and Sasha, we’re trying to save for their college education even as we’re paying off our own college educations.

So this is personal.  This is at the heart of who we are. We’ve got to make college more affordable for more young people. We can’t put the middle class at a disadvantage.  We can’t price out folks who are trying to make sure that they not only succeed for themselves but help the country succeed.  We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.  (Applause.)  We can’t do it — especially when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.  Higher education whether it’s at a four-year institution or a two-year program at a community college — it can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative every family in America should be able to afford.

Before I came out here I had a chance to meet not just with Blake but with a number of other students, and we had a little roundtable.  And the stories they told me were so familiar.  One young man — single mom, she had lost her job.  He was already about $30,000 in debt.  He was only halfway through here at University of Iowa.  Another young woman, her dad had been laid off at Maytag.  They were trying to figure out how to make ends meet.  She’s about to graduate.

Now, what I told them is, you’re making the right decision, because over the lifetime of earnings you will more than earn back this investment you’re making.  But making it more affordable would sure help.  It would sure help.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m going to have a specific request for you.  I’m going to need your help, Iowa, but let me briefly tell you what we’ve already done to try to make college more affordable, because I’m not just interested in talking the talk, I want to walk the walk.  (Applause.)

So before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to banks who were the middlemen on the federal student loan program.  So they were getting billions of dollars in profits managing a loan program where they had no risk because it was all federally guaranteed loans.  So we changed that.

And there were folks in Washington who fought tooth and nail to protect the status quo.  One of them said it would be “an outrage” to change the system where banks are managing this thing.  But the real outrage was letting them serve as middlemen and siphon off profits, while students were working two or three jobs just to get by.  So we kept at it, and we fought and we fought, and today we don’t have middlemen.  That money is going directly where it should have been to — the first place.  It’s going to help more young people afford college.  (Applause.)

And then last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time only have to pay 10 percent of their monthly income toward loans once they graduate, which means if you decide to become a teacher or a social worker or a guidance counselor, something that doesn’t pay a lot of money, you can still afford to do it because you’ll never have to pay more than 10 percent of your income in order to stay current on your loan.  (Applause.)

And then we decided, you know what, you guys need more information about this whole process.  We want students to have access to a simple fact sheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own choices about how to pay for college.  So some of you know we set up this new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to look out for consumers — (applause) — and so they’re now putting out a fact sheet called “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe — which is something Michelle and I could have used when we were in your shoes.

And then what we said was it’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We’ve also got to stop subsidizing skyrocketing tuition, or we’ll run out of money.  So the schools themselves have to keep their tuition lower.  (Applause.)  So we put out the challenge to colleges and universities.  And I’ve told Congress, steer federal aid to those schools that are doing a good job keeping tuition affordable and providing good value, and serving their students well.  And we’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from skyrocketing, the funding you get from taxpayers is going to go down.  We’re going to put money into the schools that are doing a better job.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to hold schools accountable.

Of course, as public universities like this one know, states and state legislatures also have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.) Last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, that’s not good.  These budget cuts are one of the biggest reasons why tuition goes up at public colleges and have been over the last decade.  So we’re challenging states: Take responsibility.  If you can find new ways to bring down the cost on college, make it easier for students to graduate, then we’ll help you do it at the federal level.

So that’s what we’ve already done — helped more families, more young people afford a higher education; offer incentives to states and colleges and universities to keep costs down.  That’s what we’ve been doing.  Now comes the tricky part — we got to get Congress to do their part.  And that’s where you come in.  (Applause.)

There are a couple of things I’d like Congress to be doing this year.  First, they need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place when I first came into office, because it’s saving middle-class families thousands of dollars.  They get a tax break when they are helping their kids go to college.  That’s important.  (Applause.)

Second, we need Congress to safeguard aid for low-income students, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know they’re going to be able to count on it.  We’ve got to make sure the Pell grants are there for people who need them.

Number three, we’ve got to give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.  That’s an achievable goal.  (Applause.)  And then most immediately — and this is where I really need you guys — Congress needs to act right now to prevent interest rates on federal student loans from shooting up and shaking you down.  That’s where you come in.  (Applause.)
You see, five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half.  That was a good thing to do.  But on July 1st of this year, which means about two months from now, that rate cut will expire.  And if it expires, interest rates on these loans will double overnight.  And for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  That’s basically a $1,000 tax hike on more than 7 million students around America, including 250,000 students right here in Iowa.

Now, let me see.  I’ll do a quick poll — this may be unscientific.  How many people can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.  Stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer.  (Coughs.)  It makes me sick just thinking about it.  (Laughter and applause.)  Helping more young people afford college should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  And it shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic issue.  This is an American issue.  (Applause.)  The Stafford loans we’re talking about were named after a Republican senator; Pell grants named after a Democratic senator.  When Congress cut these rates five years ago, a majority of Democrats voted for it, but 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it too.

Now, the good news is, the Senate introduced a bill last night that would keep student loan rates from doubling.  That’s the good news.  (Applause.)  And what’s also good news is some Republican senators look like they might support it.  And I’m ready to work with them to make it happen.  That’s good.  (Applause.)

But I’ve got to tell you, the Republicans who run the House of Representatives have not yet said whether or not they’ll stop your rates from doubling.  And they’ve hinted that the only way they’d do it is if they cut things like aid for low-income students.  So let me scratch my head there for a second.  Think about that.  We’re going to help some students by messing with other students.  That’s not a good answer.  How many people think that’s a good answer?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t think so.  One of these members of Congress — sometimes I like just getting these quotes, because I’m always interested in how folks talk about this issue. You’ve got one member of Congress who compared these student loans — I’m not kidding here — to a “stage-three cancer of socialism.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Stage-three cancer?  (Laughter.)  I don’t know where to start.  What do you mean?  (Laughter.)  What are you talking about?  (Applause.)  Come on.  Just when you think you’ve heard it all in Washington, somebody comes up with a new way to go off the deep end.  (Laughter.)

And then, you’ve got the spokesman for the Speaker of the House who says, we’re — meaning me, my administration — we’re just talking about student loans to distract people from the economy.  Now, think about that for a second.  Because these guys don’t get it — this is the economy.  (Applause.)  This is the economy.  This is about your job security.  This is about your future.  If you do well, the economy does well.  This is about the economy.  (Applause.)

What economy are they talking about?  You are the economy.  If you’ve got skills, if you’ve got talents, if you’re starting a business, if companies are locating here in Iowa because it’s got a well-trained workforce, that’s the economy.  That’s how we’re going to compete.  Making sure our next generation earns the best education possible is exactly America’s business.  (Applause.)  Making sure that education is available to everybody and not just the few — that is America’s business.  Our future depends on it. (Applause.)

And then, some of them suggest that students like you have to pay more so we can help bring down the deficit.  Now, think about that.  These are the same folks who ran up the deficits for the last decade.  They voted to keep giving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who are raking in record profits.  They voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers.  They voted to give folks like me, the wealthiest Americans, an average tax cut of at least $150,000 — and that tax cut would be paid for by cutting things like education, and job training programs that give students and workers opportunities to get what they need to succeed.

Now, does that make any sense?  Does that sound like folks who are really concerned with the deficit?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  How can we want to maintain tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them?  I don’t need one.  I needed help back when I was your age.  I don’t need help now.  (Applause.)  I don’t need an extra thousand dollars or a few thousand dollars.  You do.

We need to make sure everybody pays their fair share.  How can we continue to subsidize an oil industry that’s making record profits instead of investing in things like clean energy that will help shape our future?  (Applause.)  Do we want to jack up interest rates on millions of students?  Or do we want to keep investing in the things that help us in the long term — things like education and science, and a strong military, and care for our veterans?  Because we can’t have it both ways.  We can’t do all things on the cheap.

And one thing I want to be clear about — because when I talk like this, sometimes the other side, they get all hot and bothered, and they say, he’s getting — he’s engaging in class warfare.  This isn’t about class warfare.  We want every American to succeed.  That’s the point.  I want all of you to be rich.  (Applause.)  I want all of you to be successful.  We aspire to it.  That’s what Americans do.  We work and we hustle, and we study, and we take risks — to succeed.  And we don’t expect a handout.  But we also understand we’re in this thing together, and America is not about just a few people doing well, it’s about everybody having a chance to do well.  That’s what the American Dream is all about.  (Applause.)

You look at this auditorium — everybody who’s here, you’re here because somebody made a commitment to you.  First, your parents.  But it wasn’t just your parents — the folks who decided, you know what, we’re going to set up a public university.  It was the folks who made a decision early on in this republic that said we believe that all men are created equal, that everybody is endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — those were commitments that were made by previous generations to future generations.

So somebody here had a parent or a grandparent who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son can.  (Applause.)  Maybe I can’t start my own business, but some day I can picture my daughter starting her own business.  Maybe I’m an immigrant, but I believe that this is the country, this is the place where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)  That’s what we believe. (Applause.)

That is what we believe.  You and me, all of us — we’re only here because someone, somewhere, felt a responsibility not just to themselves, but to this country’s future.  And now it’s our turn to be responsible.  Now it’s our turn to keep that promise alive.  That’s where I need your help.

I’m asking everybody here, anybody who’s watching, anybody who’s following online — send your member of Congress a message. Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  Call them, email them, write on their Facebook page, tweet.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got a hashtag — #dontdoublemyrate.  (Laughter and applause.)  Dontdoublemyrate.  Dontdoublemyrate.  (Applause.)

We asked students at North Carolina, then at University of Colorado to do this yesterday — they got it trending worldwide for a while.  Let’s see if you guys can do even better.  (Applause.)  See how the Hawkeyes can do.  Because we’ve got to keep the heat on Congress until this gets done.  And I need your help to do it.  I need you to be heard.  I need you to be counted.

Now is not the time to double the interest rates on our student loans.  Now is not the time to double interest rates.  Now is the time to double down on starting investments that build a strong and secure middle class.  Now is the time to double down on building an America that’s built to last.

If we work together, with clear eyes and a common purpose, I guarantee you we’ll meet our challenges.  We will rise to this moment.  And the reason I know that is because I believe in you. I believe in you.  (Applause.)  And it’s because of you that we will remind everybody just why it is that this is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, Iowa.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.

END
2:57 P.M. CDT

Campaign Buzz April 25, 2012: Newt Gingrich Will Suspend his Presidential Campaign & Endorse Mitt Romney within the Next Week

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s  nominee at an event on Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee at an event on Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.

IN FOCUS: NEWT GINGRICH WILL SUSPEND HIS BID IN THE GOP / REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE

Newt Gingrich to suspend presidential campaign: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his presidential campaign within the next week, according to a Republican operative familiar on the decision. WaPo, 4-25-12

  • Gingrich Decides to Quit Race and Endorse Romney: Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee at an event on Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.
    Newt Gingrich told Mitt Romney on Wednesday that he plans to officially endorse Mr. Romney’s candidacy after suspending his own efforts next week, Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman said…. – NYT, 4-25-12
  • Newt Gingrich to exit presidential race: What took so long?: Newt Gingrich said weeks ago that he knew Mitt Romney was the likely nominee. Now, campaign aides say, he is set to suspend his campaign May 1…. – CS Monitor, 4-25-12
  • THE RACE: Quitting presidential race can be difficult, as Santorum and now Gingrich learned: Dropping out is hard to do. It’s been especially hard for Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Mitt Romney is claiming victory after his Tuesday sweep of five more GOP primaries. Few disagree. He has an insurmountable lead. He’s expected to clinch the…. – WaPo, 4-25-12
  • Gingrich calls ‘May Day’ on his campaign: After last night’s electoral thumping in five states, Newt Gingrich has finally gotten the message. His presidential campaign is over. He should have never have been considered a serious contender for the highest office in the land…. – WaPo, 4-25-12
  • Gingrich to suspend campaign as GOP unites behind Romney: Newt Gingrich will suspend his presidential campaign on Tuesday, according to multiple media outlets, and Rick Santorum will meet with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney three days later, tying up loose ends as Republicans unite behind…. – LAT, 4-25-12
  • Gingrich set to leave election race: Mitt Romney’s path to the Republican nomination has been cleared further as former threat Newt Gingrich began taking steps to shut down his debt-laden campaign and endorse him. Mr Romney swept five state primaries and immediately turned his sights on…. – The Press Association, 4-25-12
  • Newt Gingrich’s most memorable campaign moments: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is ending his presidential bid within the next week. He may had had some organizational issues, and he may have only won two states. But Gingrich knew how to make a memorable moment, either with a clever attack line…. – WaPo, 4-25-12
  • Romney moves to consolidate GOP support, court ex-rivals’ backers: Romney targets Obama in primary victory speech Romney senior advisor on road ahead Bachmann’s Take: Tuesday’s GOP primaries Now, the hard part. Mitt Romney, after finally clearing away the competition in the long and winding Republican primary battle…. – Fox News, 4-25-12
  • Romney moves to coordinate campaign with GOP: A day after claiming the title of Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney moved aggressively Wednesday to coordinate with the Republican National Committee to intensify his fight against President Barack Obama. One-time bitter GOP rivals looked to be coalescing behind the former Massachusetts governor.
    RNC Chairman Reince Priebus marked the transition Wednesday by proclaiming Romney the party’s “presumptive nominee.” Romney’s campaign also appointed several senior staff members to work on an informal takeover of the committee’s national infrastructure.
    “We will ensure that our finance, political and communications teams are fully synchronized,” Priebus said. “I am excited that these two top-notch operations will start to integrate and present a unified team to defeat Barack Obama.”
    At the same time, fading Republican contender Newt Gingrich signaled that he would likely follow Rick Santorum out of the race and called on the GOP to unite behind Romney. Aides confirmed that Gingrich will leave the race next week and said he was likely to endorse his one-time rival…. – AP, 4-25-12

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Student Loans Interest Rates Doubling at the University of Colorado Boulder

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: College Is the Best Investment You Can Make

Source: WH, 4-25-12

President Obama at the University of Colorado Coors Event Center
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on interest rates on student loans at the University of Colorado Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo., April 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by by Chuck Kennedy)

If Congress doesn’t act, more than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1 of this year. President Obama believes that this is unacceptable: Higher education cannot be a luxury in this country. It’s an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford.

On Tuesday, the President visited universities in Colorado and North Carolina to talk with students about the importance of keeping interest rates on student loans low so that more Americans can get a fair shot at an affordable college education that will provide the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to middle class. President Obama also paid a visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which was taping at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he “slow jammed” the news, explaining, “Now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people.”

During a call with college reporters, the President explained why the battle over college affordability is one he is willing to fight:

 “I’ve always believed that we should be doing everything we can to help put higher education within reach for every single American student — because the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average.  And it’s never been more important. Unfortunately, it’s also never been more expensive.  And most of you guys I’m sure have reported about this and know this — students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000 a year. And I know what this is like, because when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school we had enormous debts, and it took us a lot of years to pay off.  So that’s probably why I feel this thing so personally.”

In Colorado, President Obama repeated his call for students to take action and make sure their voices are being heard:

“You need to send a message to your member of Congress. Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  You call them, you email them, you write on their Facebook page, tweet.  We’ve got, actually, a hashtag that I want everybody to use — #dontdoublemyrate.”

President Obama talks to patrons at the Sink in Boulder, Colo

President Barack Obama talks to patrons at the Sink turning a local stop in Boulder, Colo., April 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


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POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President–Boulder, Colorado

University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado

7:20 P.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Boulder!  (Applause.)  How’s it going, Buffaloes?  (Applause.)  Well, you guys are just happy because school is almost out, isn’t it?  (Laughter.)

Please give Daniel a big round of applause for that great introduction.  (Applause.)  I just saw Daniel over at The Sink.  (Applause.)  I bought some pizza.  And I heard a rumor that Robert Redford used to work there.

AUDIENCE:  Yess!

THE PRESIDENT:  So that’s just a sign — always be nice to your server because you never know where they’ll end up.  (Laughter.)  I will say that I was shaking hands with folks outside and a young woman — she got very excited and spilled yogurt on me.  (Laughter.)  More hazardly, she spilled yogurt on the Secret Service, which you — (laughter) — the agent just stood there, just looking at her.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank the Chancellor of UC Boulder, Phil DiStefano.  Give him a big round of applause for having me here today.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, Joe Garcia, in the house.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank you for being indoors when it is gorgeous outside.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve just come from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill — (applause.)  I was talking to another good-looking group of students.  Jimmy Fallon and I taped his show there tonight — make sure to tune in.  (Laughter.)  But we saved the prime-time event for Boulder.  (Applause.)

And I’ve come here to talk to you about what most of you are focused on every day — at least you’re supposed to be — and that is studying and college.  Look, college isn’t just the best investment you can make in your future — it is the best investment that you can make in your country’s future.  I believe that.  (Applause.)

And by the way, I just want to say, all of you who have seats, feel free to sit down.  (Laughter.)  Because it’s hot in here and I don’t want folks dropping off.  (Laughter.)  There you go, make yourself comfortable.  Take a load off.  (Applause.)

So I’m proud of all of you for doing what it takes to make this investment in a college education because it has never been more important.

In today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  Higher education, whether it’s a four-year college or two years at a community college, is the clearest path we’ve got to the middle class.

Now, I know that those of you who are about to graduate — (applause) — you’re pretty cheerful about that, huh?  (Laughter.)  I know those of you who are about to graduate sometimes are wondering what’s in store for your future.  Because not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus.  And today, our economy is recovering, but it’s not yet fully recovered from the worst financial crisis and economic crisis that we’ve experienced since the Great Depression.

Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years.  (Applause.)  But there are still too many Americans who are out there looking for a job or trying to figure out how to pay the bills and cover the mortgage.  There are too many folks who still lack the basic security that has always been at the heart of the American promise, but has been slipping away for more than a decade now, even before the recession hit.

But here’s the thing.  I want all of you to know that the degree you earn from Colorado is going to be the best tool that you’ve got to achieve the American promise.  (Applause.)  By far. That basic idea that if you work hard, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, if you work hard you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little bit away for retirement.  That idea that each generation has a little more opportunity than the last.

I can tell you that now as a parent.  When I look at Malia and Sasha — sometimes I coach Sasha’s basketball games, and if she scores a basket I am so excited, compared to when I used to score a basket.  (Laughter.)  It’s the hope that all your parents have for you — that your own kids will surpass you; that they’re going to be able to shine as bright as they can imagine.  And that’s the dream that your parents have for you.

And keeping that promise alive, that’s the defining issue of our time.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We believe in you!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I believe in you.  I believe in you.  (Applause.)  I believe in you.

And I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of Americans are doing really, really well while a growing number are struggling to get by.  (Applause.)  That’s not the future I want for you.  That’s not the future I want for my daughters.  I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know.  That’s the America I love.

It’s a big and bold and generous America.  It’s not a cramped America.  It’s not an America that says, set your sights lower.  And that’s the America that’s within our reach.

You know, I think back sometimes to my own circumstances.  My grandfather had the chance to go to college because this country decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to go to school.  (Applause.)  And then my mother was able to raise two kids by herself while she was going to school because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  (Applause.)  And then I’m only standing here today, and Michelle is only where she is today, because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.

We didn’t come from well-to-do backgrounds.  We didn’t have famous families.  But it wasn’t just that we worked hard.  It was also that somebody made an investment in us.  (Applause.)  That’s what America did for us.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody.  Everybody who’s willing to work for it, we’ve said, you know what, you’ve got a shot.  That’s what makes us special.  That’s what makes us exceptional.
That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  And that’s the commitment that we’ve got to reaffirm today.  (Applause.)  That’s what we believe in.

But I don’t need to tell all of you that it’s gotten harder. Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at American colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates about $25,000 in student loan debt.  Not good.  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.

And living with that kind of debt means some pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It means putting off buying your first house.  Or it means maybe you can’t start up that business right away that you’ve got this great idea for.

When I was over at The Sink I was talking to three business majors, and they all had these business ideas.  But it’s tougher if you’ve got all this loan that you’re already thinking about the minute you get out of school.  Maybe you’ve got to start a family a little bit later.  It takes you a longer time to save for retirement.  And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you.  It’s not just tough on your families.  It’s painful for the whole economy because that’s money that could be going into the economy and could be going into new businesses and could be helping businesses grow.

And I want to point out — listen, I know about this firsthand.  Michelle and I, we know about this firsthand.  This is not something I read in a briefing book.  (Laughter.)  This is not some abstract idea for us.  We’ve been in your shoes.  When we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt, both of us.  That means when we got married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  We added our assets together, and they were zero.  (Laughter.)  And then we added our liabilities together, and they were a lot.  (Laughter.)

We paid more for our student loans than we paid for our mortgage each month when we first bought our small condo in Chicago.  And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income, but we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m the President of the United States and — (laughter and applause) — so here I am, and we were writing those checks every month.  And that wasn’t easy, especially when we had Malia and Sasha, because at that point, we’re supposed to be saving for their college educations, and we’re still paying off on our college educations.  So I’ve been in your shoes.  I know what I am talking about here.  This is not something that I just read about.

So we’ve got to make college more affordable for you.  (Applause.)  We cannot price the middle class out of a college education.  When most new jobs in America require more than a high school diploma, higher education — whether at a four-year college, at a two-year program — it can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative for every family in America.  And every family in America should be able to afford it.

As long as those young people are willing to put in the work, as long as you’re willing to study hard and take advantage of this opportunity, then we’ve got to make sure it’s there for you.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m going to be asking for your help, but let me tell you what I’ve already done on this issue, Colorado, because I think it’s important to know that we haven’t just been talking the talk — we’ve been walking the walk — to try to help make college more affordable.

Before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to subsidize banks in the student loan program instead of going to students.  So we changed it.  We cut out the middleman.  We said, why do we need the banks?  They’re not taking a risk.  These are federally guaranteed loans; let’s give the money directly to students.  (Applause.)

And I have to tell you, there were folks in Washington who fought us tooth and nail because they wanted to protect the status quo.  One of them, when they heard that we wanted to take this business away from the banks, they said, this is “an outrage.”  But the real outrage was letting these banks keep these subsidies while students were working two or three jobs just to try to pay tuition.

So we kept at it, and we kept at it, and we won that fight. And today, that money is going directly to where it should have been going in the first place, and that’s helping millions of young people afford a college education.  (Applause.)

And then last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time, they have the option of only paying 10 percent of their monthly income towards loans once they graduate.  And that means if you decide to be a teacher, or you decide to be a social worker, or you’re going into a profession that doesn’t  pay a lot of money, you still have that option, because you know that your monthly payment will be manageable.  (Applause.)  And that’s important.  (Applause.)

And then we decided we’ve got to make sure every student has access to a simple fact sheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make intelligent choices on your own about how to pay for college.  So some of you know we created this new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  It’s a watchdog for consumers.  (Applause.)  And one of their mandates is to focus on student loans.  And so they’ve produced a website and fact sheets called “Know Before You Owe” — “Know Before You Owe” — which is something I wish Michelle and I knew about, wish we had had.

So we’ve done those steps to help provide you good information and to make sure that we’ve expanded access to Pell grants and student loans.  But that’s not enough.  It’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We can’t keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition, or we’re just going to run out of money.  We’ll just run out of money.  (Applause.)

So what I said to colleges and universities is, you guys have to do your parts to keep costs down.  (Applause.)  And I’ve told Congress, steer federal aid to those schools that keep tuition affordable and provide good value and serve their students well.  We’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t show us that you’re making every effort to keep tuition from going up, then funding from taxpayers will go down.  You’ve got to make an effort.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to hold colleges accountable if they don’t.  (Applause.)

Of course, public universities like this one also understand that states have to do their part, state legislators have to do their part in making higher education a priority.  (Applause.)  Last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.  These budget cuts have been one of the biggest factors in your tuition going up.  So we’re challenging states to take responsibility.  We told them, if you can bring — find new ways to bring down costs of college, make it easier for students to graduate, we’ll help you do it.

So that’s what we’ve already done.  We’ve helped families, helped more young people afford a higher education.  We’re offering incentives to states and colleges and universities to keep costs down.  And now, guess what, Congress has to do their part.  (Applause.)  Congress has to do their part.  (Applause.)

They need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place when I first came into office that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars.  They need to safeguard aid for low-income students, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know they’re going to be able to count on it.  Our Pell grants have to be there for students.  They need to give more young people the chance to earn your way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.  (Applause.)

And then there’s something that they’ve got to do right now. They have to prevent the interest rates on federal student loans from shooting up and shaking you down.  And that’s where you come in.  (Applause.)

All right.  Now, five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half.  That’s five years ago.  Not the current Congress, Congress five years ago.  (Laughter.)  On July 1st of this year, two months from now, that rate cut expires.  I want everybody to understand this.  Interest rates on those loans will double overnight, starting on July 1st, if Congress does not act.  And for each year that Congress does not act, the average student with these loans is going to rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  So this is money out of your pocket.  It’s basically a $1,000 tax hike for more than 7 million students across America  — almost 170,000 students here in Colorado alone.

Now, I just want to see a show of hands because I want to make sure I’m not misinformed here.  How many of you can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?  I didn’t think so.  So stopping this should be a no-brainer.  Helping more of our young people afford college should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  It shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican issue.  Think about it.  (Applause.)  This wasn’t a partisan issue in the past.  The Stafford loans, that’s named after a Republican senator.  Pell grants, they’re named after a Democratic senator.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  America!

THE PRESIDENT:  America.  (Laughter.)  That’s what we’re supposed to be thinking about.

Look, when Congress cut these rates five years ago, 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it.  Of course, a couple hundred Democrats voted for it, but that’s okay. It was a bipartisan effort.  Today you’ve got Republicans who run Congress, and they’re not saying whether or not they’re going to stop your rates from doubling.  Some have hinted that they’d only do it if we cut things like aid for low-income students instead. So think about this.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  They’ll say, we’ll keep your rates low as long as we’re messing with folks who need them even more.  Does that make sense to you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to read a quote.  This is from a Republican congresswoman.  I didn’t really understand this.  (Laughter.)  I’m quoting her.  She said that she has “very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt… because there’s no reason for that.”  She said, students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity “dumped in your lap.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  You guys can Google her or what have you, but — (laughter) — now, think about that.  Think about that.  I can tell you, Michelle and I, we didn’t take out loans because we were lazy.  (Laughter.)  You didn’t take out loans because you’re lazy.  You don’t take out loans lightly.  You don’t say to yourself, man, this is great, I’m going to be really in debt.  (Laughter.)  I’m thrilled.  You did it because the cost of college kept on going up, and you’re trying to graduate.

And if these guys were serious about making college more affordable, then they wouldn’t be voting to cut financial aid in their — their budget, if you look at their budget, what it means is you’re going to be cutting aid for 10 million college students by an average of more than $1,000.  They certainly wouldn’t let student rates double overnight if they really cared about this issue.

They say that, well, we’ve got to do it because we’ve got to bring down the deficit.  Now, first of all, these guys ran up the deficit.  (Applause.)  Remember, these are the same folks who voted in favor of two wars without paying for it, and big tax cuts without paying for it.  They just voted to keep billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who are raking in record profits.  They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying low tax rates — lower tax rates than middle-class workers.  They just voted to give an average tax cut of at least $150,000 to the wealthiest Americans — folks like me who don’t need it, weren’t asking for it.  And the way they pay for it is to cut things like education and job training that give students opportunities to work and succeed.  So they can’t be too serious about deficits.

I mean, do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them, didn’t ask for them, the country can’t afford it?  Or do we want to make sure that everybody pays their fair share, and make sure that young people are able to afford to go to college?  (Applause.)

Do we want to keep giving taxpayer giveaways to big oil?  Or do we want to invest in clean energy and do we want to make sure that we’re rebuilding this country?  (Applause.)  And make sure that we can keep interest rates on millions of students affordable?  We need to be investing in the things that build America over the long term.  Things like education and science, a caring for our veterans, and a strong military.  (Applause.)  And we can’t have it both ways.  We’ve got to make choices.

In America, we admire success.  We aspire to it.  I want everybody here to do great, be rich, go out and start a business. That’s wonderful.   We work and we hustle, you study hard to get your degree — because you believe in success and individual initiative.  But America is not just about a few people doing well.  America is about everybody having the chance to do well.  (Applause.)  That’s what the American Dream is all about.  (Applause.)

Some of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son can go to college.  Maybe I can’t start my own business, but some day my daughter, she can start her own business.  Maybe I’m an immigrant and I won’t have every opportunity, but I believe that in this country, is this place, this is a place where no matter who you are or what you look like, or where you come from or what your last name is, you can make it if you try.  That’s what America is about.  (Applause.)  That’s who we are.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)
So let me just be clear here.  We need to send a message to folks who don’t seem to get this that “setting your sights lower,” that’s not an education plan.  “You’re on your own” — that’s not an economic plan.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.

Earlier generations made investments necessary to build a strong middle class.  Somebody started this university.  Somebody gave us a chance.  Somebody made the investment in us because they helped to forge America’s leadership in things like science and technology and manufacturing.  That’s what previous generations did, and now it’s our turn.  Somebody here might be discovering the cure for cancer.  Somebody here might be getting the formula for fusion.  Somebody here might be inventing the next great American industry.  But that’s only going to happen if we understand that we’re in this together.

And that’s why I need your help.  I’m asking everybody who’s here and anybody who’s watching, anybody who’s following online, you need to send a message to your member of Congress.  Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  You call them, you email them, you write on their Facebook page, tweet.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got, actually, a hashtag that I want everybody to use — #dontdoublemyrate.  It’s pretty — everybody, I want you to repeat that.

AUDIENCE:  Dontdoublemyrate.

THE PRESIDENT:  Dontdoublemyrate.

AUDIENCE:  Dontdoublemyrate.  I asked students at North Carolina to do this earlier today and they got it trending worldwide for a while.  So let’s see if you can do better — (applause) — because we’ve got to keep the heat on.  Your voice matters.  You’ve got to stand up.  You’ve got to be heard.  You’ve got to be counted.  You’ve got to tell them now is not the time to double your interest rates on student loans.  Now is the time to double down on the investments in a strong and a secure middle class, and double down on an America that’s built to last.

You, me, all of us, we’re here because somebody, somewhere — starting with our parents or our grandparents or our great grandparents — they made an investment not just in themselves, but in each other and in the future of our country.  And now it’s our turn.  It’s our turn to keep that promise alive.

And that’s what drives me every single day.  I used to — when I was running for this office, I said to people, look, I will not be a perfect man or a perfect President, but here’s what I can do:  I can work every single day as hard as I know how to make sure that you’ve got a chance, to make sure you can live out your hopes and your dreams.  And I’m not about to quit now.  We don’t give up here in America.  We get up.  We get each other’s back.  We help each other get ahead.  We work together.  (Applause.)

And if you all are willing to join me, I guarantee you not only will we stop these interest rates from going up, but we’re going to remind the rest of the world just why it is that America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
7:52 P.M. MDT

Remarks by the President to College Reporters

Via Telephone, Aboard Air Force One, En Route Boulder, Colorado

4:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, everybody.  Thanks for being on the call.  And first of all, let me apologize if the connection sounds fuzzy.  As was just mentioned, I’m joining you guys on Air Force One.

I’m just leaving North Carolina; I was at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Now I’m on my way to the University of Colorado at Boulder.  And tomorrow we’re going to be at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  And what we’re doing is going to schools to talk to students directly about the critical importance of the possibility that 7.4 million students with federal student loans would see their interest rates double on July 1st unless Congress steps up and does what it needs to do.

I’ve always believed that we should be doing everything we can to help put higher education within reach for every single American student — because the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average.  And it’s never been more important.  Unfortunately, it’s also never been more expensive.  And most of you guys I’m sure have reported about this and know this — students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000 a year.  And I know what this is like, because when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school we had enormous debts, and it took us a lot of years to pay off.  So that’s probably why I feel this thing so personally.

For a lot of working families, the idea of owing that much money means higher education is simply out of reach for their children.  And for the first time now we’ve got Americans owing more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.

The key point here is, is that in America, higher education can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family has got to be able to afford.  We’ve already taken some important steps to make college more affordable.  So, for example, we extended Pell grants to 3 million more students, and we signed a tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help middle-class families cover the cost of tuition.  We’ve eliminated a major expense for young people by allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until they’re 26.

But there’s clearly more work to be done.  And that’s why I’m going to colleges across the country.  I want to talk to students right now about how we can make higher education more affordable, and what’s at stake right now if Congress doesn’t do something about it.

So the key point I want to make:  If Congress doesn’t act on July 1st, interest rates on Stafford loans, on student loans from the federal government will double.  Nearly 7.5 million students will end up owing more on their loan payments.  And that would be, obviously, a tremendous blow.  And it’s completely preventable.

And for some time now, I’ve been calling on Congress to take steps to make higher education more affordable, to prevent these interest rates from doubling, and to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, but also, to double the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.

And instead, over the past few years, Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, even while they’re voting for huge tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — tax cuts that, by the way, would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

So the bottom line here is we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education, allowing them to earn their degrees — that’s nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees.  And Congress has to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.

And I have to say, from my perspective, this is a question of values.  We can’t let America become a country where a shrinking number of people are doing really well, a growing number of people struggle to get by, and you’ve got fewer ladders for people to climb into the middle class and to get opportunity.  We’ve got to build an economy where everybody is getting a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  That’s ultimately how the middle class gets stronger.  And that’s an economy that’s built to last.

So I’m going to take this issue to every part of the country this year.  I’m going to keep focusing on it until Congress passes legislation to keep interest rates low and to continue to give students the chance to get the college education they need for the jobs of today, but also for the jobs of tomorrow.

And part of the reason I wanted to be on this call is to let you know, very personally, I need your help on this.  I need you all to tell your readers and your listeners why they’ve got to speak up, why they’ve got to speak out.  Let Congress know that they need to do the right thing.  And for those of you on Twitter, use the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate.  That’s #dontdoublemyrate.

Because we don’t want Congress to double the interest rates on so many students.  We need to reward hard work and responsibility.  And part of that is keeping interest rates on student loans low so more Americans get a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, a clear path to the middle class that’s not blocked by a mountain of debt.  And the time to act is right now, and I’m going to need your help getting that message out.

So thanks so much to all of you for being on the call.  And thanks for taking the time to shine a light on this important issue.  And I know that our team is going to be on the phone call after I hang up.  They can answer a bunch of specific details that you may have.

Talk to you soon.  Bye-bye.

END 4:14 P.M. EDT

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