SENATE REVIVES PERKINS STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM

Cochran Cosponsored Senate Bill to Reform Program Used by Miss. Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) to renew the federal Perkins Loan Program, a student loan program that expired in October.

The Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015 would extend the loan program for through September 2017, allowing students to continue to access this assistance while the Congress works to reform the overall federal student loan program. The program is a revolving loan fund administered by institutions of higher learning that provides educational loans to students with exceptional financial need for college or career school.

“Students at many community colleges and universities in Mississippi benefit from the Perkins Loan Program, and this bipartisan compromise will end undue hardships while broader federal student loan reforms are considered,” Cochran said. “The changes included in the Senate legislation are intended to cover the cost of continuing the program over the next two years.”

The Senate bill, which is a substitute to House-passed legislation (HR.3594) reauthorizing the Perkins Loan Program, includes changes to criteria for awarding these low-interest loans. The Senate bill, for instance, would limit Perkins loans to current undergraduates and end the award of new loans to graduate students. It would also require schools to issue Perkin loans to students who have exhausted borrowing limits for Stafford student loans.

The Senate bill was authored by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

12/17/15