Senate lawmakers have reached a tentative deal to extend the Perkins Loan Program through September 30, 2017 in an attempt to continue the program until Congress can pass a full reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. But, the “Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015” comes at a cost that is offset by changes to the program.
The bill, which comes nearly three months after the September 30 expiration of the program, would: eliminate Perkins loan eligibility for new graduate students beginning in the 2016-17 year; require schools to award all subsidized and unsubsidized Direct loans prior to awarding Perkins for new undergraduate Perkins borrowers; and end *all* Perkins loan authority effective September 30, 2017, thereby discontinuing any grandfathering beyond that date.
The bill also contains new disclosure requirements, including one that would mandate schools notify Perkins borrowers that the program is coming to an end.
This extension has the support of Senator Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, who has continually blocked any Senate passage of a Perkins extension. If the Senate passes this latest bill, it would likely be passed by the House and sent to the President’s desk for signing.
While NASFAA is appreciative of the bipartisan effort to keep the program alive, we have expressed concern about the programmatic changes, particularly limitation of graduate student eligibility and the impact of the mandated packaging order on students and the slippery slope of a precedent that such provision would establish. We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.
Publication Date: 12/15/2015