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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter Leads Bipartisan Push by the New York Congressional Delegation to Reauthorize the Perkins Student Loan Program

September 28, 2017
Press Release
Program will expire this week if Congress fails to act, impacting 50,000 New York students

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25) today led a bipartisan push by the New York Congressional delegation urging Congressional leaders to reauthorize the Perkins student loan program, which expires at the end of this week. New York alone has more than 50,000 students who count on Perkins loans in order to afford college, the highest number of any state. If Congress fails to reauthorize this program by September 30th, approximately 500,000 students nationwide will immediately lose the safety net of the Perkins loan program.

“Due to the impending expiration of the program, the U.S. Department of Education has advised the over 1,500 participating public and private colleges and universities that they cannot issue new Perkins loans starting October 1, 2017 in the absence of congressional action. While students across the country have begun their fall semesters, they are being told there is no guarantee a Perkins loan will be available for them throughout their education,” Slaughter wrote, joined by all 26 of her colleagues in the New York congressional delegation. “We strongly encourage the Committee and House leadership to work together to reauthorize the longstanding Federal Perkins Loan Program, which is a great benefit to students, higher education, and our country as a whole.”

"Making a college education accessible is a top priority and higher education institutions are lucky to have Congresswoman Slaughter fighting to save the Perkins Loan program," said Daan Braveman, president of Nazareth College. "If the Perkins program ends, and the government doesn't replace it with another program, our students alone will lose $400,000 of financial aid opportunity. That is a significant impact on our students in need of access to this funding.”

“The Perkins Loan program is a critical and effective financial aid resource for students and families with exceptional financial need as well as those who are facing unexpected or urgent financial circumstances. The Perkins loan program is an integral part of the University’s financial aid resources to help our students with the greatest financial need. We greatly appreciate Congresswoman Slaughter’s leadership on this important bi-partisan issue,” said David Munson, president of RIT.

“In order for our nation to remain a global leader, we must ensure all students from all socioeconomic backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue a high quality higher education. The Perkins Loan program fulfills an important niche in the student aid domain by helping bridge the gap for high needs undergraduate and graduate students and their families and ensuring they have access to subsidized, low-interest financing to support their education and future. I want to thank Congresswoman Slaughter for her long-standing leadership in support of this critical program and for working tirelessly to make sure all students have access to a quality education,” said Joel Seligman, president and CEO at the University of Rochester.

“Over 460 of our students currently receive the Perkins Loan, and the assistance significantly helps them bridge a gap to finance their education.  Programs like Perkins gives hope to students seeking a college degree when they know there is a funding source that is available to them. We appreciate the congresswoman's efforts on behalf of our students and stand behind her support for the continuance of this program," said Gerard Rooney, president of St. John Fisher College.

“The Perkins Loan is a critical support for students with great potential but limited financial resources to complete their educational goals. As a first-generation college student, I was enabled to obtain a college degree with the help of a Perkins Loan, so I strongly support the efforts of Congresswoman Slaughter as she advocates for the continuance of this program. There simply aren’t enough other options for students in need of financial assistance,” said Deana Porterfield, president of Roberts Wesleyan College.

"The State University of New York is committed to providing our students with an education experience that is affordable, of the highest quality, and of the broadest possible access,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “SUNY fully supports Congresswoman Slaughter’s continued advocacy for the Reauthorization of Perkins Loan program and thanks her for her leadership on behalf of our students and their peers throughout the country.”

Perkins Loans are need-based loans that make access to higher education accessible for low income students by providing low interest loans to students in need. Perkins Loans borrowers are predominantly from lower income families and are often the first in their family to attend college. Unlike many other student loan programs, Perkins is administered directly by colleges and universities who originate the loans, counsel their students through repayment, and select contractors for servicing and collection.

Colleges and Universities tailor the program to best fit borrowers’ and institutions’ situations. Perkins is a risk-sharing program with institutions contributing one-third of their students’ awards. This “ownership interest” also contributes to the successful management of this vital program.

Sixty-seven percent of Perkins borrowers are dependent students, 34% of whom are from families with household incomes of less than $30,000. Twenty percent of Perkins borrowers are independent students, 70% of whom have personal incomes of less than $20,000.

In May, Slaughter introduced the Perkins Loan Extension Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation to extend the Perkins loan program for a period of two years so that students currently enrolled in the program can continue to receive financial aid. In December of 2015, Slaughter led the charge to save the program from expiring.

A copy of the letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Chairman Virginia Foxx and Ranking Member Bobby Scott of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education is available online here and included below:

Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Chairman Foxx and Ranking Member Scott:

On behalf of the more than 50,000 New Yorkers who receive Perkins Loans, we urge you to reauthorize this unique, critical program before it expires on September 30, 2017. Originally known as the National Defense Student Loan program, the Federal Perkins Loan Program began 57 years ago and has been included in the Higher Education Act since its inception in 1965. Perkins is the nation’s longest running student loan program and currently supports approximately 500,000 students in every state.

Over the decades, this program has enabled millions of students from low-income families across the country to pursue higher education. Through Perkins, campuses provide subsidized, low-interest loans to assist deserving undergraduate and graduate students. These loans are made available through campus-based, self-sustaining revolving funds established from a combination of federal and institutional contributions. Perkins Loans fill a critical gap that exists for many students after federal grants and Stafford loans are applied.

Due to the impending expiration of the program, the U.S. Department of Education has advised the over 1,500 participating public and private colleges and universities that they cannot issue new Perkins loans starting October 1, 2017 in the absence of congressional action. While students across the country have begun their fall semesters, they are being told there is no guarantee a Perkins loan will be available for them throughout their education.

As one of three campus-based student aid programs, Perkins loans provides necessary flexibility to colleges and universities, which can use Perkins loans in conjunction with other forms of financial assistance to help students afford the cost of higher education. Perkins loans also act as a lifeline when unforeseen disruptions, such as a parent’s job loss or student’s inability to work enough hours, jeopardize a student’s ability to pay for college. Because they do not accrue interest while a student is in school and maintain a fixed five percent interest rate when repayment begins, Perkins loans often offer a much more affordable alternative to private student loans. Furthermore, the Perkins loan program encourages graduates to serve their country and communities by offering partial or full loan forgiveness to borrowers engaged in various types of public service.

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. These revolving funds are what make the Federal Perkins Loan Program self-sustaining, with student loan repayments paying for new loans. The continuation of the program would not cost the government any additional money but its elimination would cost participating colleges and universities millions.

Now, more than ever before, American leadership demands having a world-class education system, focusing on 21st century skills and preparing the best workforce in the world. To meet the ever growing demand of talent, it is essential to ensure that all qualified students are able to pursue higher education despite their financial status. Thus far, Perkins Loans have assisted over 30 million students nationwide to realize higher education.

We strongly encourage the Committee and House leadership to work together to reauthorize the longstanding Federal Perkins Loan Program, which is a great benefit to students, higher education, and our country as a whole.

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