A bipartisan group of more than half of the House of Representatives—over 200 lawmakers—has signed on to cosponsor legislation to reauthorize the federal Perkins Loan Program, which is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30 unless Congress acts.
The Perkins Loan Program, established in 1958, provides low-interest loans for students with financial need and is funded through a partnership with the federal government and participating higher education institutions. Nearly half a million students received a Perkins loan in the past fiscal year.
Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) are calling on House leaders to hold a vote on their bill, The Perkins Loan Extension Act (H.R. 2482), which would provide a two-year extension of the program.
ACE and 21 other higher education associations wrote to Congress today, also requesting both the House and Senate to hold a floor vote on the bill this week. The groups said the extension would ensure there is sufficient time to address the program in a more comprehensive way through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Supporters of Perkins Loans have introduced companion legislation in the Senate, but Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, has indicated he would like to see the program end as part of an effort to simplify and streamline the array of federal student loan programs.
The program expired in September 2015, but Congress passed a two-year extension in December 2015 with revised terms. Under these adjusted terms, new borrowers must first exhaust all of their direct loan eligibility before they can be offered Perkins dollars. In addition, new graduate students are no longer eligible for the program.