09.29.15

Murray: Don’t Leave Students in the Lurch, Pass Perkins Loan Extension

Murray: “There is no reason to block this bipartisan legislation that would give students some certainty for next year.”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks on the Senate floor, urging her colleagues to pass a one year extension of the Perkins Loan Program before it expires this week.  In her remarks, Murray explained that as Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, there is no reason to block bipartisan legislation already passed by the House to provide students with certainty for the next year.  Murray highlighted that Perkins Loans are low-cost, provide students with flexible repayment options, and don’t accrue interest while a student is enrolled in school, which can help reduce student debt, and that letting the program expire would take away a critical option for students to afford college.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Unfortunately, instead of keeping students’ options open to help them succeed, we’re facing another deadline and another artificial crisis. If we don’t act, the Perkins Loan Program will expire after tomorrow.  That means that more than 100,000 students would no longer be eligible for this assistance over the next year.  That would leave students in the lurch. 

“Without Perkins Loans, students might have to take out private loans that have higher interest rates and fewer repayment options. So, students would end up with a heavier burden of student debt. Or, they might decide not to enroll in the first place. That’s the exact opposite outcome we need for the future of our economy.”

“In my home state of Washington, more than 15,000 students received Perkins Loans last school year. That includes almost 4,700 students from the University of Washington alone. I want to make sure the next class of students has the same opportunity so they can better afford college.”

“We in Congress need to provide students with more support to manage rising college costs, not less.  And I am hopeful that today, we can extend the Perkins Loan Program for one year, while we work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Because there is no reason to block this bipartisan legislation that would give students some certainty for next year.”

“The House of Representatives has already acted to extend this program for one year, and we should do the same before the clock runs out. I am so glad that this effort to extend the Perkins Loan Program has strong bipartisan support here in the Senate. And it would provide new students with some certainty for the current school year.”

“…Passing this bill to extend the Perkins Loan Program is a step we can take, so students don’t have the rug pulled out from under them.  There is no reason students should have to face this uncertainty. And there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to pass this by unanimous consent.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you, M. President.

 

“This month, students across the country are making their way back to college campuses. 

 

“And, M. President, when more Americans pursue their degrees beyond high school, it’s good for our country.  It strengthens the middle class, and it strengthens the workforce we’ll need to compete in the 21st century global economy.

 

“So here in Congress, we should be working on ways to help more students earn their degree and gain a foothold into the middle class.

 

“Unfortunately, instead of keeping students’ options open to help them succeed, we’re facing another deadline and another artificial crisis.

 

“If we don’t act, the Perkins Loan Program will expire after tomorrow.  That means that more than 100,000 students would no longer be eligible for this assistance over the next year.  That would leave students in the lurch.

 

“Without Perkins Loans, students might have to take out private loans that have higher interest rates and fewer repayment options. So, students would end up with a heavier burden of student debt. Or, they might decide not to enroll in the first place.

 

“That’s the exact opposite outcome we need for the future of our economy. 

 

“In my home state of Washington, more than 15,000 students received Perkins Loans last school year. That includes almost 4,700 students from the University of Washington alone.

 

“I want to make sure the next class of students has the same opportunity so they can better afford college.

 

“We in Congress need to provide students with more support to manage rising college costs, not less.  And I am hopeful that today, we can extend the Perkins Loan Program for one year, while we work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

 

“Because there is no reason to block this bipartisan legislation that would give students some certainty for next year.

“M. President, the Perkins Loan Program gives students with financial need three things that private loans don’t.

 

“These loans are low-cost. They do not accrue interest while a student is enrolled and for nine months afterward.  That can reduce student debt by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

 

“The loans provide flexible repayment terms, and they also give those who are interested in the public sector generous forgiveness options.

 

“The House of Representatives has already acted to extend this program for one year, and we should do the same before the clock runs out.

 

“I am so glad that this effort to extend the Perkins Loan Program has strong bipartisan support here in the Senate. And it would provide new students with some certainty for the current school year.

 

“M. President, students today face unprecedented challenges in financing their education. The cost of college has skyrocketed, and so many struggle under the crushing burden of student debt.

 

“Preventing the Perkins Loans Program from expiring won’t solve all those problems. And I hope we can continue this bipartisan work on ways to make college more affordable and reign in student debt. 

 

“But passing this bill to extend the Perkins Loan Program is a step we can take, so students don’t have the rug pulled out from under them.

 

“There is no reason students should have to face this uncertainty. And there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to pass this by unanimous consent.

 

“M. President, I know firsthand how important education is for families and for our nation’s middle class. When I was 15, my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In a few short years, he could no longer work at the five-and-dime store that he ran.  Without warning, my family had fallen on hard times.

 

“But instead of falling through the cracks, my brothers and sisters and I got a good education at public schools.  We went to college with help from student loans and what is now known as Pell Grants.  And my mom got the skills she needed to find a better paying job through a training program at Lake Washington Vocational School.

 

“Even through the hard times, we never lost hope that with a good education we’d be able to find our footing and earn our way to a stable middle class life.

 

“M. President, students at colleges and universities across the country are looking to us to make sure they’ll have solid pathways into the middle class.

 

“So, I urge my colleagues to support extending this program.

 

“We must make sure students have the financial aid tools they need, so they can build their skills, grow our economy from the middle out, not the top down, and lead the world in the 21st century. 

 

“Thank you, M. President. I yield the floor.”