Long Island, NY - October 23, 2015 - Standing at Molloy College on Long Island, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on his Senate colleagues to immediately reauthorize and extend the Federal Perkins Loan program. Schumer said in a time when college costs are skyrocketing and students are straining under massive debt, it does not make sense to cut off a vital federal student loan program for those with financial need.
“With the cost of college continuing to increase, Congress should be doing more, not less, to make college affordable,” said Schumer. “That’s why I am urging my colleagues in the Senate to extend the Higher Education Extension Act of 2015, for one year to prevent the Perkins Loan program stalling any longer.”
The Perkins Loan Program provides low-interest loans to students who cannot borrow or afford more expensive private student loans. Specifically, the program aids over half a million students nationwide with financial need by providing fixed interest rates and loan forgiveness options. Schumer said this program provides $120 million in aid to New York colleges, including students who attend Long Island schools like Long Island University, SUNY Farmingdale, Stony Brook University, Hofstra University, New York Institute of Technology, Adelphi University, Touro College, Molloy College, Dowling College, SUNY College at Old Westbury and Nassau Community College.
Schumer explained that, since its inception in 1958, the Federal Perkins Loan program has successfully helped students across the country access higher education. The program has helped make college more affordable to undergraduate and graduate students demonstrating financial need. It does this by providing low-interest federal student loans at the low rate of 5 percent. An undergraduate student may be eligible to receive up to $5,500 per year with the total amount one can borrow set at $27,500. A graduate student may be eligible to borrow up to $8,000 per year with the total amount one can borrow set at $60,000 per year; this includes amounts borrowed as an undergraduate. According to the State University of New York (SUNY) System, the Perkins Loan program provided 539,444 college students with aid last year, including 55,958 in New York. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Perkins program provided roughly $1.7 billion in financial aid to students nationwide during the 2013-2014 academic year, including approximately $124,215,521 to students attending New York colleges.
Despite this program’s success in making college more affordable to low- to moderate- income students over the last 57 years, Schumer explained the Senate allowed the program to lapse on September 30, 2015. Schumer said there is no excuse for the Senate to not extend this program, especially when the House of Representatives has already passed the extension unanimously. This could leave roughly 1,700 colleges and universities nationwide, including 122 institutions across New York State, along with more than 55,000 students in the lurch this year if this program is not restored. One third of Perkins Loan Program students’ families earn less than $30,000 per year. Schumer explained that because this program provides these low-interest loans for students who typically cannot borrow or afford more expensive private student loans, it could jeopardize the college education of many students across NY and the country if this program is not reauthorized and extended.
On Long Island, there are many colleges and universities that rely on the Perkins Loan program to help make higher education affordable for students. Schumer pointed to several examples across the region as evidence that this program has been successful in the past and must be extended:
- Molloy College relies on a disbursement of $421,344 to provide 232 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- Long Island University relies on a disbursement of $2,046,990 to provide 858 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- SUNY Farmingdale relies on a disbursement of $1,478,651 to provide 739 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- SUNY Stony Brook relies on a disbursement of $1,218,196 to provide 695 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- Hofstra University relies on a disbursement of $904,363 to provide 601 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- NYIT relies on a disbursement of $1,979,565 to provide 484 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- Adelphi University relies on a disbursement of $750,437 to provide 275 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- Touro College relies on a disbursement of $522,191 to provide 272 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- Dowling College relies on a disbursement of $305,750 to provide 73 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- SUNY College at Old Westbury relies on a disbursement of $7,450 to provide 11 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
- Nassau Community College relies on a disbursement of $4,000 to provide 2 recipients with the aid needed to attend college.
Schumer said that because colleges and universities collect and service the loans through a revolving fund, the program is already self-sustaining and simply needs “sign-off” from the federal government to continue making college affordable for students. With the exception of reimbursements paid to schools when graduates qualify for loan forgiveness – often due to entering a public service oriented field like teaching, law enforcement or nursing – federal government has not appropriated funds for the Perkins Loan Program since 2005, making it a low-cost federal program with immense benefits to students.
Schumer said the Senate must extend the Perkins Loan Program before it is too late and schools begin seeing students withdraw from colleges and universities across NY State and the country due to uncertainty as to where their next tuition payment will come from. The House of Representatives has already, unanimously, passed a bill that would extend this program, and Schumer said it is time his colleagues in the Senate do the same. Schumer is pushing the Senate to extend bipartisan legislation, the Higher Education Extension Act of 2015, for one year to prevent the Perkins Loan program from stalling.
While the program expired on September 30, Schumer said Congress must act soon, before second semester tuition payments are due and students and colleges alike are left in the lurch. Students who receive a Perkins loan during the 2015-2016 academic year or before and remain in the same academic program will be eligible to be grandfathered into the program and receive loans through the end of their program, or up to 5 years.