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Students Rally to Save Perkins Loans

Across the nation, colleges are fighting for the restoration of the Federal Perkins Loan Program. (Photo courtesy of Besim Collom, Class of 2019)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 7, 2015) – More than 60 UAlbany students rallied recently to save the Federal Perkins Loan Program, a need-based fund created to help low-income students attend college. The $1.7 billion loan program, which expired September 30, failed to survive a Senate fight for its revival, leaving 500,000 students nationwide without Perkins funding to subsidize tuition and other payments.

Last year, the University at Albany awarded $2.6 million to more than 1,800 students through the Perkins program. For some, the loss of Perkins Loans could signal the end of their college education.

"If I didn't have the Perkins Loan, my mother could not afford me being in school," said UAlbany junior Beny Poy. "I come from the inner city, I come from the Bronx, and my life has become way better since I've come to the University at Albany. It saddens me to know that there are going to be a lot of people who aren't going to have this beautiful opportunity."

Kevin Wilcox, UAlbany's controller and associate vice president, addressed the rally, calling the Perkins Loan Program "a critical, unique and irreplaceable part of overall student aid funding available to higher education students in this country and at our University."

Across the nation, colleges are fighting for the restoration of the Federal Perkins Loan Program. UAlbany’s advocacy on this issue has been a team effort between students and administration.

The University at Albany's Student Association and Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) students, instrumental in staging the campus rally, have led the fight through petitions, online letters and e-mails to members of Congress.

In addition, UAlbany's President Robert J. Jones, a long-time advocate for the Perkins Loan Program, enlisted the support of New York's senior Senator Chuck Schumer, also a staunch Perkins supporter and a leader of the Congressional fight to have the funding reinstated. At the president's invitation, Schumer staged a press conference at UAlbany last month, calling for the program's renewal.

"Increasing access to a quality, affordable higher education is at the cornerstone of our mission at the University at Albany," said President Jones. "Failing to restore the Perkins Loan Program, which has for decades helped thousands of high need UAlbany students achieve their educational goals, would be nothing short of disaster. We support Senator Schumer’s fight to extend this critical financial resource."

The Perkins Loan debate remains stalled in the U.S. Senate, while lawmakers and students are hoping an extension is approved by the end of the year as part of a new federal budget plan.

View some of the media coverage of UAlbany’s advocacy efforts:

Schumer pushes to restore federal loan program for low-income students

Schumer Calls for Renewal of Perkins Loan Program

Schumer: Save Perkins Student Loan Program

Schumer pushes for an extension of the Perkins Loan Program

Schumer calls on UAlbany students to urge lawmakers to bring back school loan program

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than
120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.