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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Baldwin requests committee to take up Perkins Loan legislation

As uncertainty looms over a federal student loan program’s potential expiration this month, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., wrote a letter encouraging Congress to act before it expires.

The Perkins Loan Program serves 23,000 low-income Wisconsin students, granting more than $57 million in aid for them to pursue a higher education. The program is set to run out on Sept. 30 if Congress does not act to renew it.

Baldwin joined three other Democratic senators in a letter to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee asking them to extend the financial aid program.

“We recognize the need for reform and improvement in our federal financial aid system,” Baldwin, a member of the HELP committee, said in the letter. “We believe the appropriate venue for examining their future is a thorough discussion and debate….on the Senate floor.”

Funding for the program remains a large challenge for Congress. Since 2004, the body has not appropriated funds to the program.

Instead, educational institutions use the funds received from past recipients in order to give aid to current recipients.

Republicans say privatizing the program would be a better use of taxpayer money and prevent universities from increasing the cost of tuition.

“Our goal is to simplify the system, make it easier for students to apply for grants and loans...and the Perkins loan is not as effective a loan in meeting those goals as other loans that we have,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in 2015.

Nationwide, the decades-old program serves 315,000 students. If no resolution is reached by late Sept., students would no longer be able to sign up for the program. 

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