It’s bad enough that thousands of New York students are graduating with massive amounts of student loan debt, but a recent decision by the federal government could prevent the next generation from ever even having the chance to go to college.
According to Politico New York, the federal Perkins Loan Program expired on Sept. 30 after the U.S. Senate failed to renew the $1.7 billion financial aid provision. The House of Representatives unanimously voted to extend the program, to no avail.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer summoned university leaders in the Capital Region to the University of Albany in an effort to convince the Senate that their failure to renew the program will have grave effects on the nation’s youth.
“It’s this type of stuff that has people scratching their heads and saying, ‘What the heck is going on in Washington?'” said Schumer. “We have to restore this.”
The average college graduate in 2015 will have to pay back about $35,000 in student loan debts. Schumer spoke about the financial burden this puts on the average family and hopes universities will begin to put more emphasis on quality education, and less on profits.
“College is becoming more of a necessity and being priced as more of a luxury,” Schumer said. “We have to do everything we can do help people who deserve to go to college, get to college.”
According to WAMC Northeast Public Radio, the federal Perkins Loan Program provided over $123 million in financial aid to students across the state. Schumer says this “doesn’t cost the government a nickel,” adding that they have not appropriated funds for the program since 2005.
Schumer is urging his colleagues in the Senate to extend the Higher Education Extension Act of 2015, which would restore the Perkins Loan Program for another year until it is officially renewed or a new program is developed.
The Perkins Loan Program provides low-interest loans to students who are unable to afford more expensive private student loans. If the program is not renewed, SUNY colleges may end up owing the federal government money, and thousands of students will be forced to find alternative funding or withdraw from school.