President Barack Obama shared his experiences with student loans in a speech at the University of North Carolina today. In an attempt to make a connection with the mostly college-aged crowd, the president revealed he and his wife, Michelle, had a tough time with student debt.
“Michelle and I, we’ve been in your shoes,” President Obama said. “Check this out, all right. I’m the president of the United States. We only finished paying off our student loans off about eight years ago. That wasn’t that long ago. And that wasn’t easy.”
President Obama’s speech in North Carolina is part of a two day tour of battleground states aimed at connecting with young voters. The main policy President Obama is pushing on the trip is an effort to convince Congress to pass legislation that would prevent the interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling this summer. His main Republican rival, Mitt Romney, is also pushing for Congress to stop the Stafford rate increase. In a not-so-subtle contrast to Mr. Romney, whose personal wealth has drawn plenty of attention in this campaign, President Obama said his support for keeping student loan costs down came from his time as a “poor” newlywed.
“I didn’t just read about this. I didn’t just get some talking points about this. I didn’t just get a policy briefing on this,” President Obama said. “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. We added up our assets and there were no assets. And we added up our liabilities and there were lot of liabilities—basically in the form of student loans.”