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Obama urges students to pressure Congress on loan rates

By the CNN Wire Staff
May 4, 2012 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
President Obama waves Friday after speaking to students at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.
President Obama waves Friday after speaking to students at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tweet your member of Congress, President Obama tells high school students
  • Obama wants Congress to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling
  • The two parties disagree on how to pay for the move
  • The Senate votes next week on a Democratic version

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama on Friday urged high school students to e-mail, tweet, and teach their parents to tweet a message to Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.

In his continuing push to extend the current 3.4% interest rate charged on federal student loans, Obama told students at a Virginia high school that the goal is to provide all Americans with the best possible education.

"We can't price the middle class out of a higher education," the president said, sounding a theme of his re-election campaign. "That's why we've got to make college more affordable."

He made no mention of Mitt Romney, his all-but-certain opponent in November, but took aim at House Republicans who passed a measure last week that would pay for extending the lower student loan rate by cutting from a health care fund that promotes preventive care.

Obama and Senate Democrats want to pay the measure's $6 billion cost by eliminating some corporate tax loopholes.

In remarks almost identical to previous speeches to college students on the issue, Obama said America is not about a few people doing well while everyone else struggles.

"America's about giving everybody a chance to do well," he said to applause and cheers. "That's what makes it strong. That's what the American dream's all about."

He urged the audience members to tell their elected officials what they think, saying that "your voice can make a difference."

"When I look at your faces, it gives me confidence about our future," the president said to loud cheers. "I believe in you."

The White House warned last week that Obama would veto the student loan measure passed by House Republicans. The Senate will vote next week on its own version pushed by Democrats, and the two chambers are expected to then try to negotiate a compromise version.

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