An Update on the Perkins Loan Extension Act; Your Assistance is Critical!

Prepared by:  Wes Huffman (whuffman@wpllc.net)

Quick Update on the Status of Perkins Loans:  The Perkins Loan Extension Act (H.R. 2482) now has 59 cosponsors.  This is excellent, but we want the number to grow.  COHEAO and other advocates within the higher education community are also working to identify sponsors for a companion bill in the Senate. 

What You Can Do to Help:  There are two key elements to a compelling argument on Capitol Hill:  Strong data and great stories.  For Perkins Loans, we have great data sources in the Federal Student Aid Data Center and from the great work of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) showing the importance of the program, but we need your help with testimonials!

We know that without Perkins loans, hundreds of thousands of low-income students will be left without a critical component of their aid package and be forced to borrow higher cost private loans or leave school altogether..  Over the years, we’ve all heard and told stories of how the Perkins Loan was a lifesaver for our students.  Now it is time to share them, as these stories will be incredibly useful for Perkins Loan advocates and our Congressional champions.  Please send Perkins Loan testimonials to Hannah Allen (hallen@wpllc.net). 

The story can come from the borrower, their family, or from you-the Perkins Loan Administrators.  Here are examples of each:

Being a first-generation student meant that navigating the college application and financing process would not only be difficult, but also something that I had to do on my own with very little guidance. I also knew that in deciding to attend an out-of-state school, I would potentially be left with the financial burden that my parents could not afford (my brother is a year younger and my parents could absolutely not put two kids through college), but I fell in love with the University of Michigan and was determined to be there in the fall. I strongly believe that finances should not be the reason someone does not attend their dream school. The Federal Perkins Loan helped me finance my tuition for both undergrad and grad school at UM, and I am immensely fortunate to have been a recipient. I am certain that I would not be where I am today without all the financial aid I received.—A Young Alumna from the University of Michigan

Here is an example of a testimonial from a parent:

I would like to let you know how the Perkins loan benefited my family.  I am a single mother of four children who currently range in ages 15 to 29.  My oldest graduated high school in 2006 in the top 3% of his graduating class.  My next child equally intelligent graduated in the top 10% of his high school class. My last college age child graduated with a scholarship to run track at Grand Valley State University.

Although my children were given generous scholarships and grants, we needed additional funding to help them reach the amount needed to attend their perspective universities.   This is where the Perkins loan came in as I was unable to obtain a Parent plus loan to supplement their financial aid.  The Perkins afforded my son Johnathan the opportunity to attend Purdue University and obtain a degree in Civil Engineering.  Had the Perkins loan not been available he would not have had this opportunity.  He then went on to obtain his Masters in Atmospheric Science at Texas A&M University fully funded.  This opportunity existed because Johnathan was able to attend a prestigious university such as Purdue as well as his hard work.

My younger son Alexander graduated high school on 2011 and went on to attend University of Illinois Champaign Urbana.  Alex graduated University of Illinois in 2016 with a double major in African American studies and Sociology.  He is a McNair Scholar and he was inducted into the Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology Honor Society.  Had it not been for the Perkins loan he would not have been able to attend U of I, he would have not had the funding to attend that prestigious school.  He learned the benefit of giving back to others while at U of I and has worked in various nonprofits since graduating.  Alex is currently preparing to attend University of Massachusetts-Amherst this fall.  He will be obtaining his Masters in African American studies and plans to work in a job where he can serve the under privileged.  Alex also, has his Masters fully funded.

My daughter Jahnell was able to have about 85% covered while at Grand Valley however due to my financial situation and having three children in college at that time the Perkins loan helped her meet the financial need to attend college.  The sports scholarship covered her tuition and some of the room and board.  The Perkins loan closed the gap on the additional funding needed for Jahnell to attend Grand Valley.

The Perkins loan program has helped my family and I am sure that I am not alone.  This program allows for a low interest loan that has benefits available that the Stafford loan program does not have.  That is why this loan program needs to be reinstated immediately.—The Mother of Multiple Perkins Loan Recipients. 

While testimonials direct from borrowers and families have the most impact, they can be difficult to obtain.  Short of borrower testimonials, please send us your stories.  These stories put a human face on the real impact of letting the Perkins Loan Program expire and will be useful for our Congressional champions and fellow advocates as the debate moves forward.  Here is an example of a story from a Perkins Loan administrator:

Back in 2010 I had a borrower that was in and out of collections with her Perkins Loan.  When she was in between collection agencies, I called her to see if she could make payments on her loan, and she indicated that she was disabled and wasn’t able to pay very much, but she could pay 5 dollars a month.  I started her on a payment plan of 5 dollars a month.  Since 2010, she has not missed one payment.  Just recently I was looking at her account and decided to do an accounting adjustment, as all her payments have been going toward interest and not principal.  I made an adjustment and put her interest payments towards principal and reduced her loan amount by $180.  Out of the blue the borrower called me.  She got a job, wants to go back to school to be a nurse and can pay her entire loan off!!  She was so excited, and I was so happy for her.  She was a borrower from 1994!

Because schools are allowed to service the Perkins loan we can provide quality service to our borrowers.  We can extend extra care and we can walk alongside someone so they can succeed.  In addition, despite the lack of federal funding this program continues to revolve because of our successful collection efforts.  This program runs and is a model on how other loan programs should be administered.—Perkins Loan Manager, Wheaton College

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Hannah Allen (hallen@wpllc.net). Thank you for your continued support of the Perkins Loan Program.

 

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