Perkins Loans Receive Automatic One-Year Extension

October 6, 2014 · by mlivolsi · Spark Notes

October 2, 2014

Prepared by:  Wes Huffman (

Yesterday, just like all programs in the Higher Education Act (HEA), the Perkins Loan Program received an automatic one-year extension to operate through September 30, 2015, under section 422(s) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA). Prior to the extension, a variety of Federal Student Aid programs, including Perkins Loans, were authorized through September 30, 2014.  Perkins is authorized under Section 461(b) of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

The Higher Education Act contains a conflict on the Perkins Loan Program that has caused a great deal of confusion.  One section of the law, Section 466, says the program sunsets starting October 1, 2012, while Section 461 says the program is authorized to continue through 2014, like the other federal student aid programs.  To resolve the conflict, the Department of Education released guidance in 2011 via Dear Colleague Letter GEN-11-02 declaring the sunset language in Section 466 “outdated” and that the authorization in Section 461 takes precedence since it was the most recent Congressional action on the program.

If Congress does not pass a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) by the end of FY 2015 (September 30, 2015), an extension to continue the authorization of numerous programs, including Perkins Loans, will be required.

It is extremely unlikely for Congress to move to end the program outside of the HEA reauthorization process, but the question remains whether continuing Perkins Loans would be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as a significant cost on a simple extension of existing HEA programs.  COHEAO’s grassroots and advocacy efforts are aimed at addressing the issue of extending the program as well as potential reforms in the context of a larger HEA reauthorization.

COHEAO members are strongly encouraged to get involved with our advocacy efforts to preserve the program.  Additional information is available on our Advocacy webpage.  COHEAO members interested in becoming more involved in advocacy efforts may also contact Jan Hnilica or Karen Reddick.  The advocacy effort will remain ongoing, and we could use the support of every COHEAO member, but in the meantime, schools should continue to operate the Perkins Loan funds in a normal fashion.  In addition to GEN 11-02, the Department has continued to encourage schools to maintain a “business as usual” attitude toward Perkins Loans for the upcoming award year.

COHEAO will continue to advocate for a solution to the September 30, 2015 Perkins deadline sooner rather than later.  We will also keep our members apprised of all developments relating to the extension of the Perkins Loan Program.

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