With a September 30 expiration looming on the horizon, the Perkins Loan Program received some support on Wednesday from a letter signed by nearly 100 members of Congress led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY).
The “Dear Colleague” letter, signed by 95 Representatives, including 8 Republicans, called on education committee leaders in the House to “work to reauthorize the Federal Perkins Loan Program before it expires at the end of the fiscal year.”
“In addition to harming thousands of students who may not have the means to afford college or would be forced to take out expensive private student loans, the expiration of this crucial program would eliminate billions of dollars in student aid from the revolving funds that institutions use to disburse Perkins loans,” the letter noted.
Slaughter held a press event on Wednesday in Rochester, NY, with presidents of local universities to announce her support and the release of the letter directed to the House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) in support of the Perkins Loan Program.
Joining the institutional supporters, NASFAA President and CEO Justin Draeger’s comments were featured among a list of organizational allies of Perkins:
“We are encouraged by this bipartisan show of support for the Federal Perkins Loan Program. Because the program consists of both institutional funds and federal dollars, the Perkins Loan Program is an excellent example of how institutions and the government can share both the risk and responsibility of funding and educating students. Over its history, Perkins Loans have aided millions of our nation’s neediest students in their efforts to achieve a post-secondary education. For their sake, we are committed to ensuring that this vital funding tool remains intact for future college students,” Draeger said.
Earlier in the summer, a bipartisan resolution introduced by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) shared the urgency of the Slaughter letter. Since its introduction, the measure has garnered the support of 46 members of Congress, including 13 Republicans and 33 Democrats.
Combining the support in the Slaughter letter with the Messer resolution, 113 representatives in Congress, including 18 Republicans, have publicly expressed their support for the Perkins Loan Program, which amounts to approximately 25 percent of the House of Representatives.
The momentum in the House on both the Slaughter letter and the resolution is encouraging to advocates of the Perkins Loan Program, but the Senate has not publicly expressed similar support. To make matters worse, time is running out. With only 10 work days left for the House of Representatives and 21 for the Senate in September, there is little opportunity remaining to advocate for this important student aid program, particularly in light of congressional focus on a budget deal to avoid a government shutdown which must be completed by October 1.
NASFAA continues to make the case in public and behind-the-scenes for the continuation of the Perkins Loan Program. On Monday, Draeger published an op-ed in The Hill which called on Congress to reauthorize the program, especially because of its inherent “skin-in-the-game” qualities.
“Let’s urge Congress to make the sensible and responsible choice to engage institutions in appropriate risk-sharing and to provide students with affordable, low-interest loans by renewing the Federal Perkins Loan Program by October 1,” he concluded.
Publication Date: 9/3/2015