On Saturday, the Perkins Loan Program will end nationwide, leaving many University of Wisconsin undergraduates who are financially dependent on the program without access to loans for higher education.
The program is need-based and funded by the U.S. Department of Education for undergraduate students across the country, according to the United States Office of Federal Student Aid.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., a UW alumna, is one of the Senate leaders in the bipartisan fight to keep the program enacted across the country.
“We have common sense bipartisan legislation to extend this critical student loan program and it deserves immediate action,” Baldwin said in a statement.
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In the House, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, supported the Perkins Loans Extension Act, a bill to extend the Perkins loans past their Sept. 30 expiration date.
In Pocan’s statement, he said that 223 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, including Democrats and Republicans, support the passage of thr bill.
“Hundreds of thousands of students across the country are counting on Congress to act by September 30 to reauthorize this program or their futures will be in jeopardy,” Pocan said in the statement. “These students attend colleges and universities across the country and the Perkins Loans program gives them the opportunity to access an education they would otherwise be unable to afford.”
The program was set to expire in 2015, but Baldwin and several of her Senate colleagues worked to pass bipartisan legislation that extended through September 2017.
Now, politicians from both parties are working together again to save the Perkins program, which is set to expire on September 30.
“For generations, this program has acted as a lifeline for many students, helping them build a path to the middle class, not debt,” Baldwin said. “I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in this bipartisan effort and act now before it’s too late.”
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While the program isn’t officially ending, schools that participate will no longer be able to award and disburse new loans. These schools will remain as servicers and collection agents until all borrowed funds have been repaid, according to the UW Office of Student Financial Aid.
Even though there is a chance that the program will be renewed, the Office of Financial Aid at UW said it must act as though the program is ending.
The Office of Student Financial Aid, with the intention of preparing students for possible changes related to their financial aid, has informed those who qualify for Perkins loans that they must accept their loan through their MyUW student center or sign the promissory attached to that loan before Sept. 22, or they will not receive their 2017-2018 Perkins loan.