Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Perkins Loan program expires, impacts financial resources for students

The end of the Federal Perkins loan means more than 20,000 low-income students in Wisconsin will not receive the additional funding to continue their education, according to Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

“Since 1958, the Federal Perkins Loan Program has been successfully helping America’s students access affordable higher education,” Baldwin said.

The Federal Perkins loan program expired after the U.S. Senate failed to extend the deadline past Sept. 30. Baldwin said she helped start a bipartisan effort with Senate Democrats and Republicans to reserve the program for another year by proposing a unanimous consent request.

The request was struck down twice on Sept. 30 and Oct. 21.

“I am disappointed that our bipartisan effort has once again been obstructed,” Baldwin said in a Oct. 21 press release.

According to a press release from UW System President Ray Cross on Oct. 21, the UW System has been funding higher education for thousands of students.

“The Perkins Program has been a critical resource for thousands of the neediest UW System students over the years, dispersing nearly $29 million to more than 15,800 students in 2013-2014 alone,” the UW System press release stated. “In other words, nearly one in every 11 students enrolled in the UW System that year were directly impacted by the Perkins Program.”

According to Financial Aid Director Kim Donat, during the current academic year, 371 UWO students are receiving the Perkins loan.

“The total Federal Perkins funding for 2015-16 will amount to approximately $1,144,496,” Donat said. “This is an average of over $3,300 per student.”

Donat said the program’s expiration will impact UWO students in the future, and students will have to make more compromises during their college careers to fill the gaps left from the Perkins loan.

“This may be accomplished by asking parents to provide greater assistance in meeting college costs or looking to borrow a private education loan for their educational expenses,” Donat said. “Another option might be to look at additional part-time employment. However, many of our students currently work and adding more hours to pay for college costs could be a hardship for many.”

According to Donat, there are multiple impacts on students and their financial aid security while attending school.

“Only students who received a Perkins loan at UW Oshkosh during the 2014-15 award year or earlier and who are in the same academic program will be eligible for funding in the next few years,” Donat said. “The impact will be that fewer students will be able to access the program that truly benefited our neediest students.”

The program provides institutionally based low-interest loans to students who cannot afford more expensive private student loans, according to Baldwin’s press release.

“Colleges originate, service and collect the loans,” the press release stated. “Through a revolving fund, institutions maintain loans available for future students.”

According to the Baldwin press release, the Perkins loan may be eligible for cancellation depending on the student’s major.

“The program serves as an incentive for people who wish to go into public service by offering targeted loan cancellations for specific professions in areas of national need such as teaching, nursing and law enforcement,” the Baldwin press release stated.

According to a Sept. 30 press release from Baldwin, she has traveled the state of Wisconsin, discovering that students are frustrated with the expiration of such a vital program.

“When I travel around my home state of Wisconsin, one of the things I hear the most from my constituents is their frustration that Congress isn’t doing enough to make higher education more affordable and accessible,” the press release stated.

The UW System press release stated the Perkins loan should be extended until a larger discussion about the entire federal financial aid spectrum can be addressed.

“On behalf of the University of Wisconsin System, it is our sincere hope that you will reconsider the decision to let the Perkins Loan Program expire,” the press release stated.

According to Donat, the UWO will have less resources for students who cannot afford college.

“Although it’s disappointing to lose the program, we will continue to work with students and families in helping to provide financial assistance to continue their education at UW Oshkosh,” Donat said.

Baldwin said the alternative to getting unanimous consent is a full debate on the Senate floor, but she cannot guarantee the debate will happen.

“I feel like if we had an up or down vote, that would be great,” Baldwin said. “Unfortunately, I do not control the agenda of the Senate in terms of what’s going to be scheduled for the debate.”

Baldwin stated in the Oct. 21 press release that she hopes students will continue to call their state senators to extend the Federal Perkins Loan Program.

“I will continue to fight to extend this support for America’s students, and I hope students across America urge their senators to join this effort so that we can find a way to show the half a million students that we stand with them and are committed to helping them build a stronger future for themselves and our country,” the press release stated.

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