College students held demonstrations in several U.S. cities on Wednesday to mark the day total U.S. student loan debt was expected to reach $1 trillion, with some burning student loan documents and others demanding a right to “debt-free degrees.”
The demonstrations for “One Trillion Dollar Day” come as President Barack Obama was visiting colleges to push Congress to extend the low interest rates on college loans to more than 7.4 million students. If lawmakers fail to act, rates on the loans will double on July 1 to 6.8 percent.
Describing his own struggle to pay off college debt, Obama appeared at the University of Iowa at Iowa City on Wednesday to talk to students about his campaign to make education more affordable. He made similar appearances on Tuesday in North Carolina and Colorado.
Several hundred protesters, mostly college students wearing placards noting the size of their debt loads, rallied in New York City’s Union Square park on Wednesday.
They set fire to student debt documents and held signs reading “Debt free degrees” and “Education in America: Don’t bank on it.”