CLEVELAND -- College students at the president's CSU speech cheered his words about higher education.
"I'm not going to make college more expensive for students here at Cleveland State just to give another tax break to folks who don't need it and weren't even asking for it," Barack Obama said to about 9,000 approving supporters.
The crowd, made up largely of college age people, were most interested in the availability of federal grants and what interest rate they would be paying on their college loans.
"If we have the Pell Grants we'll be able to go to school and it will be affordable," said Briana Smith, "and if we have loans at a low interest rate then it won't be that hard once we do go out and get jobs."
"I want to make sure that tuition is affordable for anybody who wants to go to Cleveland State, wants to go to Ohio State, anyone who wants to pursue a higher education and is willing to put the work in," the president added.
The college students acknowledged that job prospects when they graduate are bleak, with the unemployment and underemployment rate of recent college grads at around 50 percent. Still, they largely support the president's reelection.
"Personally, I think it's going to get a lot worse if Romney gets into office," one Cleveland State student told WKYC. "It'll take a lot longer than 4 years to help the economy," added another, pledging her vote to Obama.
Some said Republican challenger Mitt Romney would not support increased federal grants, subsidies, and low interest loans as much as the president would.
"I've got tons of student loans," said a CSU student from Parma. "Books cost me $800 for one semester, and I feel Romney's saying, work, you know."
Obama supporter Ron Collier sat through hours of a drenching rain with the others to hear the president's 19 minute speech.
"I wanted to hear what he had to say about the funding of education," Collier noted. "That's an important issue people have not really talked about that much. The way schools are funded in this state is downright criminal."
The young man who is about a year and a half away from an education degree said he is not certain about job prospects once he graduates.