The Federal Perkins Loan Program will remain dormant, after a failed attempt Wednesday by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin to revive the program.
The program, which provides a revolving student loan fund, was allowed to expire at the end of September. Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, made a request on the Senate floor to fund it for an additional year. However, the request was blocked after an objection from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on behalf of Senate Republican leadership.
During the floor speech, Baldwin read an excerpt of a letter supporting the Perkins program written by UW System President Ray Cross, and signed by all fourteen chancellors. “We need to keep this program in place, after all, our job is to help students who would not otherwise be able to attend higher education, and help them overcome barriers, particularly financial barriers,” Baldwin said, as she gave examples of Wisconsin college students who have benefited from the program.
Baldwin said ending the Federal Perkins Loan Program without a suitable replacement creates an additional burden on low-income students. “In Wisconsin, the program provides more than 20,000 low-income university and college students with more than $41 million in aid.”
She added that the benefits are not just isolated to Wisconsin, with the program helping over half a million students attend 1,500 institutions nationwide.
The Perkins program began in 1958. Efforts to fund its continuation have House of Representatives support, but not the Senate. Right now, there is no replacement program, so students will have to find other financial resources for college, and will likely pay higher interest rates.
Larry Lee, WSAU