President Barack Obama courted younger voters on Friday by pointing to his support for cutting off federal financial aid to colleges whose students leave with high debt.
"We now have to go directly to the source -- the colleges and universities -- and say, you've got to work on cutting tuition," he told MTV in an interview.
"And we're going to reward those schools that do a good job providing good value for their students while keeping tuition low, and we'll stop directing federal aid to those colleges and universities that are loading up their students with debt," the president said.
Obama has proposed using financial aid distributed by the federal government as a way to slow the quickly-rising costs of higher education.
He suggested students consider community college as an alternative to more expensive four-year college programs.
"Young people, if they want to get into being an electrician or get into a trade or train for a particular industry, they don't have to necessarily load up with a four-year college education," he said. "A two-year education may be the best value for them."
Average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2010 at four-year nonprofit colleges was $25,250, including all private and federal loans, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
Some 35 million graduates have student loan debt, which at $904 billion nationwide, stands larger than outstanding credit card debt, figures show.
To attend an in-state public college for the 2012-13 academic year, the average overall cost for students who don't receive financial aid rose 3.8% to a record $22,261, according to a College Board report out this week. Private schools were more expensive.
The White House interview was promoted as Obama's first this election cycle to focus exclusively on issues that matter to younger voters, a large portion of MTV's audience.
Questions ranged from education to gun control and culture.
Asked which artists are making the most significant impact on politics today, he said, "I think the most vibrant musical art form right now, over the last 10, 15 years, has been hip hop. And there have been some folks that have kinda dabbled in political statements but a lot of it has been more cultural than political."
"I'd like to see a more explicit discussion of the issues that are out there right now, because music is such a powerful mechanism," he said, recalling how Bob Marley had raised his awareness of "the struggles for jobs and dignity," as well as the music of the civil rights era and 1970s anti-war movement.
And the First Dad was asked what about his daughters growing up most concerned him -- the driver's license, dating, or Facebook.
"I worry about Facebook," he said, because his daughter Malia "is well known. I'm very keen on her protecting her privacy."
"Dates, that's fine," he said. "She has secret service protection."