President Barack Obama will rally young voters Tuesday when he visits the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and makes his first appearance on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
Obama’s speech in North Carolina — a key battleground state — is part of a three-state swing where he will tell supporters that Congress should vote to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling, which will also be devastating for 1.5 million African-American students, many of whom are attending the nation’s 105 historically black colleges.
A report released Monday by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center said black students borrow the most money for college student loans. The report found that black students were more likely than Asians, whites, and Hispanics to incur high debt. Nearly 27 percent of all black students graduated with at least $30,500 in student-loan debt, the report concluded, while students of other ethnic groups ranged from 9 percent to 16 percent.
Appearing on Fallon’s popular late-night talk show, Obama will promote his campaign-style message to millions of young viewers.
Obama used his weekly address to tell Americans how student loan interest rates could jump from 3.4% to 6.8% and students may pay an additional $1,000 in debt over the life of their loans.
“We should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important,” Obama said.
“But here’s the thing: it’s also never been more expensive,” the president added. “Students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000. For the first time, Americans owe more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards. And for many working families, the idea of owing that much money means that higher education is simply out of reach for their children.”
Starting this week, Obama said he’ll visit three colleges across the country and talk to students about how his administration can make higher education more affordable. The president’s other stops include the University of Colorado at Boulder, and on Wednesday, the University of Iowa.
Obama said if Congress doesn’t act by July 1, interest rates on some student loans will double and nearly 8 million students will end up owing more on their loan payments.
“That would be a tremendous blow,” Obama said. “And it’s completely preventable.”
Obama’s college tour comes as the campaign is intensifying its efforts to attract young voters – a key voting bloc that Obama needs to get re-elected.
In the 2008 election, Obama received 66 percent of voters under 30 and the campaign would like to increase those numbers in November. Obama will attempt to mobilize college students this week by reminding them that Republicans are to blame for high college tuition rates.
“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, to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, and to double the number of work-study jobs over the next five years,” Obama said in his weekly address.
“Instead, over the past few years,” Obama said, “Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, and voted for huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires – tax cuts that would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon – who has interviewed former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and rocker Bruce Springsteen on his show–seems excited about his next high-profile guest.
“The President of the United States!?!?!” Fallon tweeted. “@BarackObama see you Tuesday!!!”