Senators Push for Perkins Extension

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators sent a letter urging the chamber's leaders to take up and pass a House-approved measure to reauthorize the Perkins Loan Program. The Higher Education Extension Act of 2015 (H.R. 3594) would provide a one-year, no-cost extension of the federal loan program, which expired on October 1.

The group, comprised of 54 senators – 11 of them Republicans, stated in the letter that, as a result of the chamber's failure to advance the legislation, "thousands of current and future students face uncertainty and hundreds of institutions are struggling to find another way to help their neediest students afford their education."

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who has argued to eliminate the Perkins program as part of an effort to simplify and streamline federal loan programs within the Higher Education Act, opposes the extension and previously urged the chamber to block movement on the bill.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) told Politico Morning Education that she has "not heard or seen any sign of a change of heart" from the HELP Committee chair, but her colleagues in the Senate are "increasingly recognizing that Higher Education Act reauthorization is not something that's going to be moved in the next weeks, or even a couple of months." Baldwin said that letting the Perkins program expire would harm students in the meantime.


Related Links

Letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid

Politico Morning Education