New hope for Perkins Student Loan program

courtesy: Gray DC

Posted Friday, December 18, 2015---8:38 a.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C.----In September the Federal Perkins Loan Program expired, leaving over 100 thousand students unsure how they were going to pay for school. Now those students can breath a sigh of relief, at least for another two years.

“We got 40 thousand students in Pennsylvania at over 100 schools where this is a reality of higher education and what it means for that student,” Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said.

“For some students that’s really how they patch together the financing to stay in college,” Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin added.

Both senators have been lead supporters of the Perkins Loan Program. They have fought for its permanent extension on the senate floor. Baldwin often butted heads with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander who wants to consolidate the governments existing loan programs into one. She believed it was something that couldn’t wait to be debated.

"You don’t just leave people in a lurch who are relying on this program to complete their education,” Baldwin said.

But this is only a 2 year extension of the program. Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan added they have to show congress why the program is needed for much longer.

“My job is to continue to build the support in the house and we focus on those senators or a senator who was a problem and take the program off life support and give it its full life back,” Pocan said.

Both senators added that it was a compromise, getting only two-years out of the deal and leaving out the availability of Perkins loans for graduate students going into their second year. But they hope to pick up those issues as they debate a long- term higher education bill.

This bill now moves to the House but the senators believe it will be passed and students can rest assured they’ll get the help they need come 2016.