SUNY students protest Perkins cuts

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In response to the approaching expiration of the Federal Perkins Loan Program, student leaders at the State University of New York are speaking out in support of this campus-based aid program.

“The 600,000 students of the State University of New York are disheartened by the divisive partisanship in Washington preventing critical legislation, including Perkins reauthorization, from moving forward through the legislative process,” said Student Assembly President and SUNY Trustee Marc J. Cohen. “Students receiving aid from the Perkins program often have nowhere else to look for financial assistance. We urge leaders in Congress to put party affiliation aside for the greater good of our students looking to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

The Federal Perkins Loan program honors the legacy of Carl D. Perkins, who chaired the Committee on Education and Labor in the U.S House of Representatives for sixteen years. Rep. Perkins was a tireless advocate for expanding access to higher education in the United States. In 2015, more than half a million undergraduate, graduate, and professional students took advantage of Perkins loans. Unlike other campus-based aid programs (including Federal Work Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants), Perkins loans are repaid by the borrowers to their school, with the repayments being used for future loans.

“Students at each of our 64 campuses have come to rely on this program. It is wrong to allow polarized politics to block access to an affordable higher education,” said Katherine Holmok, the Student Assembly’s Senior Representative and a two-term president of the Student Senate at Alfred State College.

A rally was held earlier this week by students at the University at Albany calling on federal leaders to act. “Students at UAlbany count on this funding to help them afford an education,” said Jerlisa Fontaine, the Student Association President at the University at Albany. “I hope Congress comes together to keep this important program alive.”