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The Federal Perkins Loan program expired on September 30, despite a bipartisan effort to save it.

A bill to extend Perkins—the oldest federal loan program in the country—passed  in the House of Representatives on September 28. But the effort was stymied when Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, blocked it from advancing in the Senate, citing a need for simplification of the federal student aid system.

Advocates for the program had argued that the program was a vital lifeline to the neediest students, and an already existing example of the "risk-sharing" some policymakers increasingly expect from colleges and universities, since schools had to contribute a third of the cost. However, others, including Alexander, have argued that the funds could be better directed to other programs, such as the Pell Grant.

There is still a chance the program could return, whether as an extension bill in the Senate or during reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, Politico Pro reported.

For now, students who took out Perkins Loans before July 1, 2015 will continue to have access to the subsidized funds through September 30, 2020. Institutions should follow the Federal Perkins Loan Wind-Down Questions and Answers guide the Department of Education released in July. ED is expected to release additional guidance in the coming weeks.

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Liz Clark

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