On December 18, President Barack Obama gave final approval to a bipartisan compromise to extend the Perkins loan program. The Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015 extends the program for two years, but also tightens eligibility criteria for the program.
The Perkins Loan program expired in October of 2015, leaving 539,000 lower lower-income students with fewer lower-cost options to finance college. With the renewal, Perkins Loans will be available to current and new eligible undergraduate aid recipients through the 2017-18 academic year. The bill also extends the program for graduate students currently receiving loans through the 2016-17 academic year, but eliminates eligibility for graduate students after that date.
Additionally, all new borrowers utilizing the program must exhaust all unsubsidized Direct Loans before utilizing Perkins. Current borrowers only have to exhaust all subsidized Direct Loans.
According to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chair of the Senate committee with jurisdiction of the federal financial aid program, the goal of the bill is to extends the Perkins program, , while while giving Congress“giving Congress time to reach consensus on the best way to achieve that the goal of finding “ways to simplify the complicated maze of federal grant and loan programs.” important Alexander said his goal is to make it easier for students to apply for financial aid and afford collegegoal in the next Higher Education Act reauthorization.”