Federal Perkins student loan program extended

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop on Friday became the first among Michigan’s five House freshmen to get a piece of legislation signed into law.

The bill, sponsored by the Rochester Republican and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, would revive and extend by two years the federal Perkins Loan program, which grants low-interest loans to students with exceptional financial need. The program expired Sept. 30.

The White House said President Barack Obama signed the legislation Friday afternoon before leaving for his annual family trip to Hawaii.

“Extending the Perkins Loan program ensures those in severe financial need will continue to have the certainty to help achieve their higher education goals,” Bishop said in a statement.

“Congress must continue to find new, innovative ways to make college more affordable and simplify our nation’s financial aid system.”

Compromise legislation passed the House on Thursday, following Senate approval on Wednesday. An earlier version of the bill by Bishop and Pocan would have extended the program for one year but had been blocked in the Senate by Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

As adopted, the bill allows current and new undergraduate borrowers to receive new Perkins loans through September 2017 and additional disbursements through the 2017-18 school year.

Current borrowers may qualify for Perkins loans after exhausting their eligibility for subsidized direct Stafford loans. New borrowers may receive Perkins loans after exhausting all other direct loan eligibility.

Graduate-school borrowers who remain in their course of study may also continue receiving new Perkins loans through September 2016, with additional disbursements through the 2016-2017 school year.


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