Two-Year Perkins Extension Clears Senate

December 17, 2015

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday breathed new life into colleges’ efforts to revive the expired federal Perkins Loan Program.

Lawmakers passed, on a voice vote, a bipartisan deal that would revive the expired federal loan program for the next two years.

The bill by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee would also impose some new restrictions on how students receive the loans. For instance, borrowers would have to exhaust their eligibility for federal direct loans before being able to receive a Perkins Loan, which is a need-based program.

Alexander, a Republican who chairs the Senate’s education committee, previously blocked efforts to continue the Perkins Loan Program, citing a desire to simplify and streamline the federal government’s various loan offerings for students. The program expired Sept. 30.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Alexander called the two-year extension -- with new eligibility restrictions -- a “fair compromise” to keep the program while lawmakers “work on a long-term solution for simplifying the student aid program” in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Senate Democrats, many of whom pushed for the program to be renewed, also praised the deal on Wednesday.

The legislation now awaits approval from the U.S. House, which earlier this fall passed a one-year extension of the program.

The Obama administration has indicated that it supports the program.

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