Reps. Pocan, Slaughter Urge Congress to Save Perkins Loan Program
Washington, D.C – Today, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) stood with education advocacy organizations and students to urge Congress to reauthorize the Federal Perkins Loan program before it expires on September 30th. The Federal Perkins Loan is a need-based loan, which fosters access to higher education for low-income students by providing low interest loans to students in need.
“A college education open doors to greater job opportunities and financial stability. At a time where higher education costs are skyrocketing, Congress needs to do everything it can to ensure that students are able to attend college without being weighed down with mountains of debt,” said Rep. Pocan. “The Perkins Loan Program is a vital tool to help make college accessible and affordable for all students. Perkins Loans have helped students struggling to find a way to pay for college in Wisconsin. I urge my Congressional Colleagues to reauthorize this program and ensure students have the ability to attend college without being held back by debt.”
Nationwide, over 500,000 students are awarded Perkins Loans every year. These student borrowers are predominantly from lower income families and are often the first in their family to attend college. 67% of Perkins borrowers are dependent students, in which 34% of them come from families with household incomes of less than $30,000. Last year, the University of Wisconsin System awarded $28.8 million dollars in loans to 15,829 students during the ’13-’14 school year. If the Perkins Loan is eliminated, students in Wisconsin, New York and across the country will not be able to access much-needed financial aid.
“Last week, I stood with the college and university presidents in my district representing over 6,000 students who receive Perkins funds to call for immediate action to save the Perkins Loan Program,” said Rep. Slaughter. “Perkins Loans are special and a good investment all around: they are available to low-income students, have a low, capped interest rate, and are administered by the colleges and paid back to that college, creating a revolving system. Students should be studying for their next exam, not worrying whether they can afford their next semester. The loss of Perkins Loans would be an unrecoverable blow to the 500,000 students across the country who rely on them.”
In June 2015, Rep. Pocan along with Rep. Messer (R-IN) introduced a bipartisan resolution, with 50 cosponsors, in support of the Perkins Loan Program. A broad coalition of education, financial aid groups, and colleges support the Perkins Loans Program. Rep. Slaughter (D-NY) also sent a bipartisan letter last week, along with 94 of her colleagues, to the leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce urging immediate action to save the Perkins Loan Program.