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Mad about your college loans? You have a chance to take your frustrations straight to the president on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama will take questions on Tumblr about college affordability and student debt in a discussion to be moderated by the site’s 27-year-old founder, David Karp, at the White House. The town hall-style live event is part of the president’s social media strategy to reach younger voters. More than 40 percent of the microblogging site’s audience is between the ages of 18 and 34, according to Tumblr.
The president has held similar "White House Socials" on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit—this will be his first time using Tumblr for such an event. Administration officials have long used the platform to share GIFs and light-hearted photos of the White House as part of their larger strategy of bypassing the media and getting their message directly to voters.
Obama has said he wants the United States to lead the world in the share of citizens who have graduated from college. (Right now, America ranks 12th in the world.) But the costs of higher education have skyrocketed, locking out many middle-class and poorer people and leaving those who do attend starting their careers burdened by significant debt. By this spring, the average student debt load for those who take out college loans was nearing $30,000.
Obama often mentions his own student debt load in speeches to explain why he cares about making college more affordable. “Michelle and I have been in your shoes,” he told college students when he was on the campaign trail in 2012. Obama and the first lady were still paying off their hefty student loans from college and law school when he was elected to the Senate in 2004, when they were both in their 40s.
The president signed laws in 2010 and 2013 intended to reduce student debt loads. People who enroll in college in 2014 or later will be able to qualify for loan forgiveness 20 years after graduating. Borrowers can also limit their loan payments to 10 percent of their income, instead of the previous 15 percent level.
You can submit questions for the president on college affordabililty on Tumblr.