On Sept. 24 Rep. Rob Bishop and Rep. Mark Pocan introduced a bipartisan bill to the House of Representatives to extend the Federal Perkins Loan for a year. If passed, this bill would have given Congress a year to decide to either renew the program or remove it once the year is up. However, while the bill did pass in the House, it did not pass in the Senate.
The bill itself was approved by all but one in the Senate and would have passed if not for Senator Tammy Baldwin asking for a unanimous vote. While she did mean well, all it took was Senator Lamar Alexander refusing to allow the bill to pass.
The Federal Perkins Loan is a student loan program funded by the U.S. government for students with exceptional need. The loan is a campus-based revolving door, which means the University decides how much loan funds are awarded to individual students, up to a maximum of 5,500 dollars, and all the money that is paid back goes into helping another student attend college. The loan also has a fixed interest rate of five percent and a grace period of nine months after graduation.
However, with the Federal Perkins Loan extension not passed, where the revolving door money will go is a mystery. While most believed the money would go back into the school for different costs, this does not seem to be the case.
“Already the federal government is asking for that money back,” Meghan Flores, of Financial Aid at St. Kate’s, said.
Congress has two months before they have to set the budget for 2016. With the billions of dollars that were for college students back in Congress, the budget might look completely different than it would have.
Due to grandfather provisions, St. Kate’s recipients who entered the college in 2014 can still receive a Federal Perkins Loan, but for first-year students in the 2015-2016 school year this is not an option. As for the students who can still take part in the program, they’ll have to follow strict guidelines.
“Students who are grandfathered into the program will have to stay within the same academic program until they graduate. This means they will have to continue with the same major and same university,” Flores said. “However, I believe students can add a second major, so long as their first major remains their primary major. Students can also add [a] minor or two.”
This is due to the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code. This code is used for the government to track the statistics of college majors in the country each year. Each major has its own code. The reason students can add a second major is if their school puts in the CIP code of their original major first. Minors do not have CIP codes and thus aren’t considered a change in a student’s academic program.
“We have had the grandfather provisions for the Federal Perkins Loan up on the financial aid website for about six months now, so that any student can figure out whether or not they qualify to continue in the program,” Flores said.
While the extension of the Federal Perkins Loan did not pass, it can still be brought to the floor as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Flores said that now is the time to reach out to state Representatives and Senators. Readers can find out who to contact at http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/