2015 Perkins Advocacy Efforts

Federal Perkins Loan Extension Act of 2015 H.R.3594

2015 was a very active year for Perkins advocacy as the program was set to expire September 30, 2015 absent congressional action.  COHEAO led the advocacy efforts with the support of many members of the higher education community.  Despite the valiant efforts of many congressional leaders, the program did expire on September 30, 2015 and subsequent grandfathering rules became effective October 1, 2015.

Through the efforts of many congressional leaders who steadfastly supported the program, a compromise was reached in December, 2015 which resulted in the two-year extension of the Federal Perkins Loan Program.  H.R.3594 – Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015 became effective December 18, 2015 when it was signed into law as Public Law No:  114-105.

While the changes enacted were far from ideal, loans are available to students and the program remains alive heading into the HEA reauthorization debate. There were extraordinary efforts put forth by members of the higher education community to push for this extension.  College and university presidents, national and regional higher education associations, student groups and Members of Congress worked together to show their support and communicate the importance of the Perkins Loan Program for students with need.  While the list of supporters is long, we do want to give special thanks to Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) for their tireless efforts and leadership, which made the extension a reality.

Listed below are some of the 2015 advocacy actions leading up to the extension:

Save Perkins Now Petition at change.org

In early 2015, Maria Livolsi, COHEAO President and the Director of the Student Loan Service Center at SUNY initiated the “Save Perkins Now” petition at change.org.  Our members and the education community shared this link with students, faculty, staff members and alumni and to date, over 21,000 people have shown support by signing this petition. When a supporter signs the petition, an email message is generated to the Congressional Member in the supporter’s district.

House Resolution 294 (June 3, 2015)

On June 3, 2015, Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) along with co-sponsor Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced a bipartisan resolution stating Congress’ support for the continuation of the Perkins Loan Program. Messer and Pocan, both members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sought additional cosponsors on the resolution and ended up with a total of 58.

Perkins Dear Colleague Letter (June 16, 2015)

On June 16, 2015, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) supporting the reauthorization of the Federal Perkins Loan Program and asked for the support and signatures of other Members of Congress.  When her letter was issued on September 2, 2015 to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, she had obtained support from 95 Members of Congress.

Senate Resolution 267 (September 24, 2015)

On September 24, 2015, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced S.Res.267 – A resolution expressing support for the continuation of the Federal Perkins Loan Program.  Along with 19 original cosponsors, the resolution was supported by 28 Senators.  This was a companion bill to the House H.R.3594 –The Higher Education Extension Act which was passed by the US House of Representatives on a voice vote on September 28, 2015.

Senator Baldwin would take the fight to the Senate floor several times before the program expired September 30, 2015.

Industry Support Letter to Congress to Extend the Perkins Loan Program (November 20, 2015)

On November 20th, a letter of support was sent to all Congressional Offices urging our leaders to pass House bill H.R.3594 to extend the program by any means necessary.  The letter was signed by 53 higher education organizations (including COHEAO) and 535 institutions of higher education.