UPDATE: President Obama speaks to thousands at UI - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: President Obama speaks to thousands at the University of Iowa


President Barack Obama spoke to several thousand people at the University of Iowa Fieldhouse on Wednesday as part of a week long push to renew a student loan measure.

The proposal would keep interest rates on Stafford Loans at 3.4 percent instead of doubling the rate, which will happen on July 1. President Obama was at the University of North Carolina and University of Colorado talking to college students Tuesday prior to this visit to Iowa.

Air Force One landed at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids around 11:30 a.m. He was met by Rep. Dave Loebsack and Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. He shook hands with a few people on the runway before heading to Iowa City.

Just after arriving in Iowa City, the President met with five University of Iowa students who receive federal aid to pay for their education. The roundtable discussion was held at the Iowa Memorial Union and was closed to the public.

Senior Marissa Boles said that after her upcoming graduation, she expects to have about $30,000 in student loan debt. Obama noted the average debt a student incurs is $25,000.

Wednesday's event at the Fieldhouse was open to students, faculty and staff at the University of Iowa. Doors opened at the field house in Iowa City at 10 a.m. and the crowd filled the room, awaiting the president's arrival.

The national anthem was played and the Pledge of Allegiance recited while the crowd waited.

Junior Blake Anderson, who was part of the roundtable discussion at the IMU introduced the President to the crowd.

Obama said the fight to keep higher education affordable is a personal one.

Speaking on his third college campus in two days, Obama said that he and wife Michelle just eight years ago finished paying off their own student loans, while at the same time trying to save for their daughters' college educations.

"I've got to tell you, it wasn't easy making those payments," Obama said.

The President encouraged those in the crowd to contact their lawmakers to show support for the current push to keep the interest rates at a lower level ahead of the July 1 deadline.

Obama said the student loan issue is about economic recovery.

"If you do well, the economy does well. This is about the economy," Obama said to a crowd of mostly UI students.

After his speech, the President traveled back to the Eastern Iowa Airport. Air Force One left around 2:45 p.m.

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