Senate Perkins Extension Bill Introduced, Update on Cosponsors in the House

September 15, 2017 · by mlivolsi · Spark Notes

September 15, 2017

Written by Greg Marak (

This week, S. 1808 was introduced to extend the Perkins Loan Program for two years. The bill is identical to the House bill, according to its sponsors.  It was introduced by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Cosponsoring the bill are Sens. Johnson (R-WI), Durbin (D-IL), Reed (D-RI), Shaheen (D-NH), and Feinstein (D-CA).

“For generations, the Perkins Loans Programs has helped students build a path to the middle class, not debt,” said Senator Baldwin. “This is a program worth fighting for. Two years ago, we successfully saved Perkins Loans by working across party lines, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join us in this bipartisan effort again.”

The following statements are from the other sponsors of the Senate bill:

Senator Portman

“No one should be denied the chance to pursue higher education simply because of their financial status…For years, the assistance of the Perkins Loan Program has helped low-income students attend college—oftentimes as the first generation of their family to do so. Two years ago, Congress came together in a bipartisan way to extend this program. This legislation will extend those efforts and continue providing students the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

Senator Casey

“For many low and middle-income families, a college education is a ticket to higher wages and a strong financial future…This bipartisan, commonsense extension of the Perkins Loan Program would help level the playing field so that cost is not the deciding factor in a student’s decision to pursue a college education.”

Senator Collins

“In Maine, more than 4,000 students received a Perkins Loan last year, providing nearly $8.6 million in aid…The Perkins Loan Program serves as a critical resource for students to fill gaps beyond what is available through the Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program and a family’s ability to pay.  This two year extension will provide students in Maine and across our country with the critical certainty required to plan for and afford higher education.”

In Senator Baldwin’s press release, COHEAO is listed with other organizations and universities across the country that support the program.

The sponsors are circulating requests for more cosponsorship to the senators in their respective parties.  There is no numerical goal for Senate cosponsors, just as many as possible.  In 2015, there were 28 cosponsors of a resolution supporting Perkins and 54 senators signed a letter calling for its extension. It is extremely important that high-level university officials and administrators contact their Senators and Representatives and encourage them to become cosponsors. If you need assistance with encouraging your president/top officials to reach out, please contact Greg Marak ( 

COHEAO urges everyone to reach out!

The full text S. 1808 is attached, and available online.

In other news, Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) both went to the House floor Wednesday evening during a very long series of votes on amendments to appropriations bills and rounded up more cosponsors.  We are now at 189 with additional cosponsors being added today.  169 are already listed online.

Great work everyone!  We are extremely fortunate to have such avid leaders in Congress supporting Perkins and such dedicated COHEAO members. We need to keep the momentum going!

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