Obama answers Tumblr questions on college loans

President Barack Obama stressed that he believes paying for college is worth it Tuesday afternoon in a discussion with Tumblr users on student loans and skyrocketing college costs.

“Is this a good investment? It absolutely is,” the president said in response to a question from a Tumblr user. “It continues to be a very smart investment for you to go to college.”

But the president also stressed that college isn't for everyone: encouraging students to look into trade schools and be practical about making sure they are studying for a profession that there is actually demand for.

The discussion is moderated from the White House by the microblogging site’s 27-year-old founder David Karp. (Karp skipped college in favor of the startup world.) Tumblr solicited questions from its users — 40 percent of whom are between 18 and 34 years old — beginning last Thursday. Yahoo acquired Tumblr on May 20, 2013.

Ahead of the chat, the president expanded a program so that millions more borrowers can qualify for lower monthly payments, capped at 10 percent of their income. The president also made a White House appearance on Monday to stump for a more comprehensive student loan bill backed by Senate Democrats, which would allow many borrowers to refinance their old student debts.

Critics of the bill and the president’s executive action say they don’t do enough to address the root problem: higher education’s skyrocketing cost.

The president says he wants the country to lead the world in the share of the population that has a four-year degree by 2020. But lightning-fast increases in tuition, especially at public institutions, have made it more challenging for low-income and middle-class young people to go to college. By this spring, average college debt will reach $30,000. The total amount of outstanding student debt passed $1 trillion last year.

Obama has mentioned his own student loans 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 debts from college and law school when he was elected to the Senate in 2004, when they were both in their 40s.

The president has held other “White House Socials” before, answering questions on Twitter, Reddit and other platforms. This will be his first time using Tumblr for such an event.