Department Provides Additional Info on Perkins Extension and Deadline

October 6, 2014 · by mlivolsi · Spark Notes

October 3, 2014

Prepared by:  Harrison Wadsworth (

Department Provides Additional Info on Perkins Extension and Deadline

Today COHEAO attended a briefing by several Department of Education officials where a question was asked about Departmental guidance on how institutions should deal with the conflict in the law regarding the future of the Perkins Loan Program.  The Department re-affirmed existing guidance and provided some new information.

First, as specified in the February 2011 Dear Colleague letter, the Perkins Loan Program is covered by the General Educational Provision Act (GEPA) which states that Higher Education Act programs, like Perkins, that have not been reauthorized by Congress when their authorization expires are automatically extended for one year.  That means that the Perkins Loan Program, like other HEA programs, continues without change until Oct. 1, 2015, unless Congress acts between now and then.

Second, if Congress, as it did 15 times during the previous HEA reauthorization cycle, simply extends the expiration date of the HEA programs, the Department will consider that to include Perkins, unless Congress specifically says otherwise by saying the extension does not apply to Perkins.   This reaffirms the information provided by a Department official at the COHEAO Mid-Year Conference in early August.

Third, the Department is aware of questions institutions have regarding how to structure award notices to students this coming winter and spring, when award letters go out to students for the 2015-16 academic year.  They also are working to be prepared for how to handle a Perkins wind-down should Congress decide not to continue the program.  The Department plans to announce their guidance and proposals just prior to the upcoming Federal Student Aid Conference and include sessions on the information at the conference.  They plan to inform schools how to handle Perkins awards for the next academic year if Congress has not yet acted by the time award letters are sent to students.  The FSA Conference takes place Dec. 2-5, 2014, in Atlanta.

COHEAO will be attending the FSA Conference and has also offered to work with the Department on these issues.  COHEAO believes that the Department should recognize that if a program is authorized at the beginning of the school year that schools can make award for the entire year.  This logic applies to the other programs that would expire as of October 1, 2015, and is the practice Congress followed between 2004 and 2008, the last time the HEA was reauthorized.

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