ACE, Higher Education Groups Send Letter of Support to House, Urge Senate to Follow Same Course
The House this afternoon passed a bipartisan bill (H.R. 3594) to extend the authorization of the Perkins Loan Program through October 2016. The program is set to expire Oct. 1 barring action by the Senate.
ACE and 19 other higher education associations sent a letter today to the bill's authors, Reps. Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to express strong support for the measure, which was passed by voice vote. The bill also extends the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity and the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance through FY 2016.
Perkins loans currently provide half a million students $1.2 billion in loans every year across 1,500 institutions and have many advantages, such as having lower interest rates and a 9-month grace period before repayment begins. The loans are targeted at students with exceptional financial need
While the bipartisan cooperation in the House is encouraging, passage in the Senate looks more challenging.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), has advocated streamlining student loans by eliminating Perkins loans, and combining all student loan programs into one.
However, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a resolution last week expressing support for the continuation of the program.
The higher education groups sent a separate letter to Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the HELP committee, urging the Senate to pass a companion bill before Wednesday's deadline.