Bill to extend Perkins Loan Program dies in the Senate

Efforts to extended the Perkins Loan Program for another year fell flat as a bipartisan group of Senators decided not to pursue the Higher Education Extension Act of 2015 and let the federal education funding program expire on Thursday.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) and fellow House Education and the Workforce Committee member Mark Pocan (D-WI), the legislation to save the need-based loan program had passed the House earlier in the week.

“The Perkins Loan Program allows students in severe financial need to make their college goals a reality – and allowing that aid to expire this week is not an option,” Bishop said after the bill cleared the House on Monday. “Doing so would come at a time when our nation’s higher education system is failing many students trying to earn a lifetime of opportunity and success. The problem can be seen in soaring college costs, the regulations that discourage innovation and deny access for students, and their struggle to complete their degrees or find good-paying jobs after graduation.“

With approximately 1,700 higher education systems participating in the Perkins program, it was credited with helping approximately 30 million needy students pay for college over its 57-year history, U.S. News & World Report recently reported. 

“With so many students and higher education institutions in Michigan’s Eighth District, I am deeply disappointed that the Senate did not pass this bipartisan solution to extend the Perkins Loan Program…,” Bishop said after the bill died in the Senate. “Congress should be making it easier, not harder, for students to make their college goals a reality. Now more than ever, the pressure is on to address broad-scale higher education reauthorization. That includes making college more affordable and simplifying our financial aid system for every American.”