The House of Representatives Dec. 17 passed by unanimous consent the bipartisan Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015 (H.R. 3594), shortly following Senate passage the day before. The president is expected to sign the two-year extension of the program, designed to prevent its expiration before comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
While the bill grandfathers eligibility for medical students who received a Perkins loan before Oct. 1, 2015, it ultimately eliminates eligibility of all graduate and professional students. Perkins loans to grandfathered graduate and professional students must be made by Sept. 30, 2016, but can be disbursed later provided the first disbursement is made between June 30 and Oct. 1, of 2016.
Additionally, H.R. 3594 would terminate the program on Sept. 30, 2017; prohibit any future appropriations for Perkins Loans; and prevent future extensions of the program under the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA). As a result, Congress must decide the fate of Perkins Loans separately from the standard extension of other programs under the Higher Education Act.
The bill adds new disclosure requirements to help explain the termination of the Perkins Loan program.
The AAMC Nov. 20 joined 53 national higher education organizations and 535 colleges and universities in a letter urging a one-year extension of the Perkins Loan program.