President Barack Obama rallied thousands of students at CU Boulder last night. He spoke about the high cost of college and made a pitch to Congress to keep interest rates on a popular student loan from doubling. Colorado Public Radio’s education reporter Jenny Brundin was there.
Here is a transcript of her report:
Reporter Jenny Brundin: The buildings and streets surrounding the Coors Event Center at CU-Boulder were shut down, as was the Boulder airport, as Secret Service got ready for the first presidential visit to the city in nearly 60 years. After stopping off at The Sink, a popular local burger joint, President Obama arrived at the venue, which was filled to its 11,000-seat capacity.
(Sound of cheering)
Reporter: Mr. Obama said he and his wife Michelle relied on scholarships and student loans to go to college. And he told the crowd, they had a “mountain” of debt when they got out.
President Obama: We only finished paying off our student loans about 8 years ago. Think about that, I’m the president of the United States!
Reporter: He’s calling on Congress to stop the interest rate on new subsidized Stafford loans from doubling from 3.4 to 6.8 percent - that's set to happen in July. The White House estimates more than 160,000 Colorado students would be affected, with each paying nearly $1,000 more per year.
(sound of singing about student loans)
Reporter: The high cost of tuition was on the minds of many as they waited hours in a mile-long line to get into the Event Center to see the President. Colorado Springs resident Jan Zuppian said she and her husband are paying $2,000 on loans to keep her daughters in college.
Jan Zuppian: Per month. How many people can afford to do that? Not very many and we’re very fortunate but it’s very sad that there’s a lot of brilliant kids out there that can’t make it.
Reporter: Earlier in the day, about 30 people gathered in another part of campus to protest President Obama's policies. But the President plans to repeat his message about the importance of investing in higher education this afternoon at the University of Iowa, another battleground state.