Higher Education Extension Act of 2015by Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter
Posted on 2015-09-28
SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I
am very grateful to Mr. Bishop and to Mr. Messer and Mr. Pocan and all
others who worked on this really important issue.
Mr. Speaker, the Perkins Loan Program is 57 years old. It is the Nation's longest running Federal student loan program. It is unlike any other Federal student aid program because this critical program is specifically directed at helping low-income students afford the cost of higher education. It helps the deserving students who would not be able to afford a college education otherwise, students that save up and work hard for every credit that they earn.
Without Perkins, 500,000 low-income students across the country, nearly 50,000 from the State of New York and over 6,000 in my district alone, would not have access to a critical safety net.
The Perkins Loan fills the gaps in student aid, and acts as a lifeline when unforeseen disruptions jeopardize a student's ability to pay for college. They offer an affordable alternative to private student loans and, furthermore, they are self-sustaining, meaning that as graduated students pay back their loans, they fund the current students' loans.
This summer, 94 bipartisan colleagues joined me in a letter urging Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Scott to ensure that the Perkins Loan Program was not allowed to expire, and I am grateful for their help here on this today.
I stood with students and the presidents of colleges and universities in my district, two of whom have received Perkins loans themselves, to voice support for the continuation of the program. Among the people attending were three medical students from the University of Rochester. Heaven knows, we cannot afford to lose the services of three medical students.
I was also privileged to stand with my good friend Congressman Pocan and to hear from advocates and students who see and experience the benefits of the Perkins loans every day.
While I strongly prefer a long-term reauthorization and look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming months to secure one, I am pleased that the Higher Education Extension Act succeeds in keeping the program alive, ensures that next year's incoming class will be able to access Perkins loans, and buys us some time to secure a lasting extension.
I urge passage of this bill for all those students whose education dreams depend on having the Perkins loans.