One of about 1,500 audience members let out a groan when Sen. Hillary Clinton said last night that she took out a loan to pay for law school -- at 2 percent interest.
The rest of the crowd laughed at the reaction as Clinton, D-N.Y., paused to smile during a 45-minute speech made last night in Rec Hall.
The presidential candidate told voters two days before tomorrow's Pennsylvania primary that she will make affordable education a priority if she is chosen as the Democratic candidate instead of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
"When the cameras disappear and the lights are turned off, you're electing a president to solve problems, not give speeches," she said.
Clinton told the crowd, which filled about half of the gym, that her parents offered to cover tuition and room and board for her undergraduate years at Wellesley College, but she worked to pay for extra expenses such as books and coffee.
But then she wanted to go law school, which her dad said was not part of the bargain, forcing her to take out a loan, she said.
Clinton said her plan to improve higher education includes eliminating the FAFSA -- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- form because people spend time filling it out just to find out they don't qualify for student aid. She suggested incorporating the application into boxes on tax forms.
Clinton also will offer a 2-year public service offer to pay $10,000 for college debt, stop predatory student loan companies, and will stop the No Child Left Behind Act created by the current administration, she said.
"The world will breath a big sigh of relief when that moving van pulls out heading back to Texas," she said of President George W. Bush leaving office.
Hayley Schaeffer (senior-secondary education and English) said she stood in the rain for an hour to hear the senator, who she thought wouldn't visit the area because both her husband and daughter already came.
"I like her policies on education and women's rights," Schaeffer said.
Clinton followed her husband and daughter in Penn State appearances during the primary campaign. Former president Bill Clinton drew 8,000 people when he spoke in Rec Hall March 27. Chelsea Clinton answered questions on the HUB lawn for 500 people April 10.
Obama spoke to a crowd of 22,000 on the Old Main lawn March 30.
Clinton also challenged a comment made earlier in the day by Obama at a Reading event.
Obama told the crowd that Rep. John McCain, R-Ariz. would make a better president than Bush, she said.
"We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer him on," Clinton said. "And I think I'm the better nominee."
Matt Snyder (freshman-Spanish and business) said he supports Obama for the primary, but would support Clinton if she were chosen to take on McCain.
"I don't want to stay in the war for 100 more years," he said when explaining why he didn't like McCain.
Gov. Ed Rendell, who introduced the senator along with Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said after the speech that he hopes state Democrats will unite behind any candidate.
" ... One group is going to lose," he said. "And as governor, I'm giving you an executive order. You have 10 days to be ticked off about it, 10 days to be disappointed, and then after that, you gotta get over it, and remember what the stakes are here."
He said he believes 98 percent of Democrats in the state will band together following the primary.
Clinton also addressed the issues of car fuel efficiency, green jobs, universal health care, veterans and the war in Iraq during the 45-minute speech.