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Baldwin, Portman, Casey, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Resolution in Support of Federal Perkins Loan Program

Critical student aid program set to expire in less than one week

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced a Senate resolution expressing support for the continuation of the Federal Perkins Loan program, which is set to expire on September 30, 2015, the end of the fiscal year. The Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest loan which helps undergraduate and graduate students with demonstrated financial need meet the costs of higher education. Senators Baldwin, Casey and Collins are members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

READ the bipartisan Senate resolution here.

“Since 1958, the Federal Perkins Loan Program has been successfully helping America’s students access affordable higher education. In my home state of Wisconsin, the program provides more than 20,000 low-income students with more than $41 million in aid and it is my top priority to fight to ensure it continues for generations to come. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join in this bipartisan effort,” said Senator Baldwin.   

"Many Ohio students rely on the Perkins Loan Program to learn and grow, and this resolution highlights the importance of preserving the program to help make college more affordable and accessible to students across the country," said Senator Portman.

“Nearly 40,000 students in Pennsylvania receive Perkins loans aiding in funding their education. The abrupt expiration of this valuable financial aid tool would leave some of these students no choice but to withdraw from furthering their education and lead to empty seats in classrooms stifling innovation and learning. There’s no question we need to continue to make updates to the program so that it reflects the current realities of college, but a sudden end would a devastating blow to thousands of families,” said Senator Casey. 

“Education plays a vital role in opening the doors of opportunity to all Americans and we have an obligation as a society to open those doors ever wider,” said Senator Collins. “As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, one of my highest priorities in the Senate is to support education at all levels, including increasing the affordability of higher education. Continuation of the Perkins Loan Program will help to achieve that important goal while Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.”

View a state-by-state breakdown of the Federal Perkins Loan Program for the 2013-2014 award year here.

The Federal Perkins 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 maintain loans available for future students.

Since the program’s creation in 1958, institutions have invested millions of dollars in their own funds in the program. In addition to making higher education accessible for low-income students, the program serves as an incentive for people who wish to go into public service by offering targeted loan cancellations for specific professions in areas of national need such as teaching, nursing, and law enforcement.

Additional information about the Federal Perkins Loan Program:

  • Offers students a set 5 percent interest rate
  • Offers non-accrual of interest during the in-school and grace periods
  • Institutions match one third or more of the program funds
  • Loan cancellations have not been funded by the Federal government in recent years, now totaling more than $400 million
  • The default rate on Perkins is 2% lower than that of other federal student loans

“I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Without Perkins Loan money I don’t believe it would have been possible for me to complete my degree, which I was able to do in four years. My family hit upon financial difficult times while I was attending Madison, and the Financial Aid Department helped me by factoring those challenges into my aid package as a junior and senior. The fact that I did not have to pay interest while I was in school was a huge help to me. I was attending school full time, working and trying to live on a meager budget. The program fills an important void in the packaging of financial aid in particular for those who have the greatest need. I am a grateful and successful small business owner. I paid my loan off in full about a year ago with pride and excitement. I know that when I repaid my loan it was returned to a revolving fund and will be lent back out to other students in need,” said Benjamin Wooten, a University of Wisconsin – Madison Class of 2004 graduate and small business owner from Genoa City, Wisconsin.

On September 13, 2015, the University of Wisconsin Student Representatives passed a resolution urging the reauthorization or extension of the Federal Perkins Loan Program.

Supporters of the Federal Perkins Loan Program include:

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

American Council on Education (ACE)

Association of American Universities

Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations

Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area

Council of Independent Colleges and Universities

National Association of Financial Aid Administrators

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)

National Education Association (NEA)

Avila University

Colorado Association of Administrators of Student Loans and Accounts Receivable

Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities

Eastern Oregon University

Illinois Student Loan Administrators

Kentucky Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Kentucky Association of Student Receivable Officers

Lubbock Christian University

Michigan Association of Student Financial Services Administrators

New York State Financial Aid Administrators Association

Ohio Bursars Association

Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

South Carolina State University

State University of New York

State University of New York Financial Aid Professionals

University of California System

University of St. Thomas

University of Wisconsin System

Utah Association of Student Loan Administrators

Valparaiso University

Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities