After Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) blocked the Perkins extension bill, the federal student loan program expired on Saturday. 

On Saturday, September 30th, the Federal Perkins Loan Program expired after a bill to extend the student loan program was blocked on the Senate floor by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

Earlier last week, The Student Loan Report covered Senator Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) introduction of bill S. 1808, otherwise known as the “Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017.” The purpose of the legislation introduced on the Senate floor was to extend the federally-run Perkins Loan Program for another two years.

Baldwin’s bill received sweeping bipartisan support. S.1808 was co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats alike, including Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

However, Senator Alexander obstructed the passing of the bill on Thursday, September 28th. Lawmakers had until Saturday to devise a solution to pass the bill and extend the Perkins Loan Program. No such solution came to fruition, and the federal student loan program has since expired.

Now that the program has expired, current college students that have received federal financial aid under the Perkins Loan Program will not lose funding for the current academic year. However, no new federal student loans will be issued through the Perkins student loan program.

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According to estimates on Senator Baldwin’s website, roughly 1,500 U.S. colleges and universities will no longer be able to administer low-interest student loans through the Perkins Loan Program now that it is expired. Additionally, an estimated 700,000 higher education students will lose all-important access to financial aid without the Perkins Loan Program.

While the expiration of the Perkins Loan Program sounds extremely consequential, the federal financial aid program may still be resurrected in the future. Senators Baldwin and Alexander have both hinted at working together to develop a long-term solution that will make higher education more affordable through a federal student loan program similar to the Perkins Loan Program. A legislative bill such as that might take months to draft, but it is encouraging that lawmakers agree that a similar federal student loan program must be created.

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