U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) recently introduced legislation to extend the Perkins Loan Program for two more years. 

A group of U.S. Senators recently introduced bipartisan legislation that, if passed, would extend the federally-run Perkins Loan Program for two additional years.

On September 14th, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) presented S.1808, known as the “Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017,” to the 115th U.S. Congress. The proposed legislation also included 8 other original co-sponsors, including Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and a few more legislators from both sides of the aisle.

Three additional Senators have since signed on as co-sponsors to the bill, including Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH).

If passed, the Perkins Student Loan Program would receive another two years of life. The federal program is currently set to expire on September 30th, 2017.

The Perkins Loan Program has earned a reputation as one of the most popular and effective financial aid programs offered by the Federal government. The program is administered by individual college campuses and is mainly tailored to low-income undergraduate students.

If Congress does not pass the extension bill introduced by Senator Baldwin, roughly 1,500 higher education institutions throughout the U.S. would not be able to provide low-interest student loans to their undergraduate attendees. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 U.S. college students would lack access to financial aid if the Perkins Loan Program is not extended.

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Senator Baldwin offered the following statement for the press release published on her website: “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 Perkins Student Loan Program is currently the oldest federal student loan program in the country. The program supplies low-interest student loans to borrowers who are not able to access more expensive private student loans because of their financial situation. Since 1958, the Perkins Loan Program has issued more than $28 billion in educational loans to nearly 26 million students in every single U.S. state. Since its inception, the Perkins Loan Program has received strong bipartisan support.

Each college involved with the Perkins Loan Program originates, services, and collects the student loans. By way of a revolving fund, colleges and universities invest millions of dollars so that future students will also have access to the student loans.

For a country increasingly weighed down by student loan debt, extending the Perkins Loan Program seems like a smart idea. Currently, the national student loan debt in the U.S. is about $1.41 trillion. That amount is collectively owed by more than 44 million college students, or 70 percent of the college population. According to The Student Loan Report, the average student loan borrower in the U.S. owes $27,857 in educational debt. 

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