Bipartisan Senate Deal Would Extend Perkins for Two Years, with Major Programmatic Changes

By Stephen Payne, Policy & Federal Relations Staff

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

Sharon K | 12/16/2015 8:54:08 AM

Unless I am reading this wrong, it is ridiculous; the only thing they are doing here is giving the perception that they are “extending the program”. However, with this legislation, they are officially ending the program as of September 30, 2017 with no grandfathering. No wonder Alexander supports this legislation, it will end the whole program much sooner…

Peter G | 12/15/2015 2:47:45 PM

In the net I'm not even sure this is an "extension" at all given that they're setting a hard deadline for expiration that's before the grandfathering would have run out for many schools/students.

At risk of sounding cynical, I imagine that hard expiration is why it has Alexander's support, but on first read this strikes me as worse than no extension at all and the prior grandfathering options.

James C | 12/15/2015 10:35:18 AM

They don't want graduate students to receive Perkins because it will limit their gradplus eligibility and the federal government makes a very nice profit off of gradplus loans.

David S | 12/15/2015 9:34:34 AM

This seems to me an attempt to make the program such a shell of its former self that we lose interest in trying to keep it alive. Thank you for your efforts Congress, but please try again. You can do better than this (if you want to).

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