Bipartisan Senate Bill to Extend Perkins Loans

A bipartisan group of senators on Friday introduced legislation to extend the Perkins Loan program for an additional two years. The popular campus-based program is set is expire on September 30 unless lawmakers act to preserve it, leaving approximately 1,500 colleges and universities and 500,000 students without access to an important source of financial aid.

U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) co-sponsored the legislation. The bipartisan bill is identical to the bill approved in 2015, which the program is currently operating under. Companion legislation has already been introduced in the House. AACRAO, along with a broad coalition of student aid advocates and colleges and universities, is listed in support of the measure.

"For generations, the Perkins Loans Programs has helped students build a path to the middle class, not debt," Senator Baldwin said in a press release. "This is a program worth fighting for. Two years ago, we successfully saved Perkins Loans by working across party lines, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join us in this bipartisan effort again."

The Perkins Loan Program, the nation's oldest federal student loan program, provides low-interest loans to students who cannot borrow or afford more expensive private student loans. Colleges originate, service and collect the loans. Through a revolving fund, institutions invest millions of dollars to maintain loans available for future students. The federal government has not funded the program for well over a decade, Inside Higher Ed reported. Instead, it is paid for mostly by borrowers repaying their loans.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate education committee, has called for Congress to end the program in order to simplify federal financial aid. His office described the 2015 deal as a managed shutdown of the Perkins program. The White House budget released in May also proposed ending the program, reported Inside Higher Ed.


Related Links

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin's Press Release

Inside Higher Ed