McMorris Fights to Save Perkins Loan Program

(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) sent a letter today to Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle and ranking Budget Committee Member John Spratt urging their continued support for the Perkins Loan program, which is slated to be eliminated in the Administration’s FY07 budget proposal. The letter, circulated by McMorris and Nita Lowey (D-NY), has received bipartisan support and was signed by 89 Congressional members.

“I am committed to ensuring that every student has access to higher education,” said McMorris. “The Perkins Loan program provides valuable financial assistance to disadvantaged students who might not otherwise be able to attend college. At a time when we are focusing on growing our economy and creating a competitive workforce, we must realize that this all begins with providing students with access to a quality education.”

The Perkins Loan program has offered long-term, low-interest loans to students for nearly fifty years. This program is aimed at a specific need-based population of students, offering them a fixed 5 percent interest rate on the loan. The program also includes important loan forgiveness provisions for fields that address specific areas of national need.

McMorris worked with Republican and Democrats last year to get funding restored to the Perkins Loan Program when it was slated to be eliminated in the FY06 budget.

A copy of the letter is below.

 

March 28, 2006

Dear Chairman Nussle and Ranking Member Spratt:

As the Committee begins to draft the House Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2007, we urge you to include in your proposal support for the 2007 Perkins Loan program, which has again been slated for elimination. Due to wide-spread Congressional support during the FY 2006 budget cycle, this critical program was retained. The current proposal would recall the federal portion of the 2007 Perkins Loan collections from revolving funds administered by nearly 1,800 participating post-secondary institutions around the nation. It is important that we continue to show support for the Perkins Loan program by protecting the revolving fund and maintaining the Perkins Cancellations option in this year’s House Budget Resolution.

The Perkins Loan program has offered long-term, low-interest loans for nearly fifty years, providing financial assistance to more than 10,000,000 students. This program is aimed at a specific need-based population of students, offering them a fixed 5 percent interest rate on the loan. In comparison, Stafford Loans will be fixed at 6.8 percent as of July 1, 2006, thus underscoring the need to ensure continued access to students who meet the low-income eligibility threshold.

Perkins Loans are available for undergraduate, graduate and professional studies and include important loan forgiveness provisions for fields that address specific areas of national need such as teaching, nursing, military, social work, law enforcement, childcare and public safety. Post-secondary institutions administer the program on their own campuses, thus saving considerable administrative costs for the government. Schools also match part of the government contribution with their own funds, stretching federal dollars so that for every federal dollar invested in this program, state or institutional funds are leveraged to multiply the benefits of federal investment.

The elimination of the Perkins Loan program would create obstacles rather than opportunity for thousands of students who aspire to higher education. We strongly urge the Committee to support the Perkins Loan Program and reject any proposal to eliminate this vital program.

Sincerely,

 

CATHY MCMORRIS
Member of Congress 
(R-WA)

NITA LOWEY
Member of Congress
(D-NY)

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