President Obama is wooing young voters in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa this week, three states that are important to his bid for re-election.
Speaking Tuesday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he promised to keep the cost of college loans from soaring for millions of students.
The president told students that he and first lady Michelle Obama are not strangers to school debt.
"When we married, we got poor together," he joked.
The White House has been pushing Congress to pass a bill that would keep interest rates for some popular student loans from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
The increase, scheduled to take effect July 1, would force some students to post-pone college plans or cancel them altogether. With that in mind, the president urged students to support his plan.
"I want one of you to discover the cure for cancer, the formula for fusion or the next game-changing American industry, and that means we've got to support those efforts. So if you agree with me I need your help," Obama said.
Student debt is an enormous burden that poses a significant threat to the nation's economic recovery.
"We have an immediate crisis, so let's fix it right now," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at the White House on Friday.
"This has always enjoyed bipartisan support," he said. "We have to educate our way to a better economy. We know the jobs of the future are going to go to those folks with some higher education. And so to not do this together just doesn't make sense to me."
The president's speech at the University of North Carolina was the first of three aimed at securing the young vote. Next, he will head to the University of Colorado at boulder, and then the University of Iowa on Wednesday.