Funding Information Center
As you most likely are
aware, President Bush did not include the Perkins Loan Program
in the FY2006 budget he submitted to Congress on February 7, 2005.
Even before the official announcement was made, Mike Carey, President
of Campus Partners, and Paul Carey, our Chairman, had begun strategizing
and writing letters to elected officials. Fighting for the Perkins
program is one of our highest priorities, with Paul Carey taking
the lead in our advocacy efforts.
For now, the elimination of the Perkins program is only a proposal.
The House and Senate must approve the budget, and the process
will probably take months. However, it is important to act now
to protest this provision of the budget.
The proposed elimination of the Perkins program is among many
other programs that have been targeted for elimination or reduction.
Politicians commonly will propose program cuts, knowing that not
all programs targeted will be eliminated. Public opinion is always
considered in making final decisions. If senators and representatives
from across the country are inundated by telephone calls, letters,
e-mails, and office visits advocating for Perkins, they cannot
ignore the importance of the program.
In a classic case of
robbing Peter to pay Paul, the budget shifts Perkins funding to
the Pell grant program. Demand for financial aid from both programs
currently exceeds supply, and both must be funded. Choosing between
the programs would be akin to forcing a cook to decide between
having a stove or refrigerator in the kitchen. The Perkins program
is relatively self-sustaining and allows leveraging of funds by
requiring colleges to match federal dollars. Pell grants do not
have to be repaid. After the Perkins fund is depleted, what will
happen to the Pell program? Please make sure that your delegation
understands that using Perkins dollars to fund Pell grants is
a no-win situation for all.
Letters coming from student loan administrators will have a great
impact on lawmakers. If you can cite figures indicating how many
students will not receive enough funding to enroll in school or
stay in college if Perkins is eliminated, your representative
or senator will listen. We urge you to not only contact your representatives
and senators, but also call on you to encourage your colleagues,
students, and borrowers in repayment to contact them as well.
Putting a human face on the Perkins program and its impact on
students and the university will be effective.
Our company has already taken a leadership role in advocating
for the Perkins program. Since we heard that funding was threatened
last summer, we have been alerting colleges and universities of
the need to act. Please see the attached list of actions that
Campus Partners has already undertaken.
Perkins Funding Response
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Although the COHEAO
Annual Meeting was held before President Bush submitted his budget
for FY 2006, which proposed the elimination of the Perkins Loan
Program, COHEAO announced attendance at this year’s annual
meeting broke all records. Campus Partners was well represented
with Sharon Cameron, Audit and Compliance Specialist; Lisa Koniuto,
Director, Sales and Marketing; Mark Olson, Executive Vice President;
Sales and Marketing; and Brad Resler, our new Account Executive,
In talking to other attendees at the conference, it was apparent
that everyone shared a growing concern over the future of the
Federal Perkins program. Along with the prior news of zero funding
for the Perkins program in FY 2005, there were rumblings at the
conference of a possible proposal to eliminate the Perkins program
altogether. The following week, on February 7, 2005, the proposal
to eliminate Perkins was announced.
One of the primary reasons behind the President’s proposal
to eliminate the program largely rests on the Office of Management
and Budget’s assessment of the program derived from use
of the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). Used to evaluate
many Federal programs, the PART evaluation deemed the Perkins
Loan Program “ineffective.” Despite letters to the
Department of Education and other attempts by COHEAO members to
point out the flaws in the application of the PART to the Perkins
program, Pam Moran, Senior Program Specialist at ED, addressed
the group and told us that the Perkins Program had been deemed
“redundant and duplicative.” Another speaker, John
Dean, Principal, at Washington Partners, LLC, expressed his opinion
of the PART assessment by tossing it on the floor. Before entering
private practice, Dean was Associate Counsel to the Committee
on Education and the Workforce of the US House of Representatives.
Mark Olson used the
opportunity to network with leaders from other student loan servicers
at the conference. He united with three other major servicers
at the conference and took the lead in drafting a letter to the
Department of Education. The letter, which has since been mailed,
offered assistance in providing better data to ED to improve the
scoring of the PART analysis. Mark also took this opportunity
to reiterate how important the Perkins program is to students
and schools and how the program “provides critical loan
funds to over 630,000 needy students attending some 1,800 schools.”
William “Bud” Blakey, a partner in the Dean Blakey,
Washington, D.C. law firm, gave an inspiring speech during a luncheon
presentation to help prepare attendees planning to make visits
to Capitol Hill to lobby for the Perkins Program. “It’s
not about zero FCC, it’s about the students,” Blakey
told the group. He suggested
that lobbying efforts
focus on students who would not be able to enroll in college or
complete their current education without the support of this most
critical piece to the financial aid pie. Representatives from
colleges and universities were encouraged to compile and present
firm estimates of actual numbers of students who would be affected
at their institution.
The conference ended with a breakfast on Capitol Hill. Speakers
at the breakfast included Representative Ralph Regula (R-OH),
Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health
and Human Services and Education, and Representative Stephanie
Hersth (D-SD). Both speakers shared with the group their show
of support for education funding. Rep. Hersth said that she is
a strong supporter of the Perkins Loan program and plans to work
hard to preserve and fund it in Congress.
Following the breakfast, our staff visited the offices of North
Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole to encourage
them to support the Perkins Program. Using hard data furnished
from one of our customers, we took the advice of Bud Blakey and
translated the effect of zero funding for FY 2005 (not program
elimination) in terms of impact on students. We passed along one
of our customer’s estimate that 166 incoming freshman at
her institution would not be able to fund their education (based
on an average loan of $3,000), and 250 seniors (based on an average
loan of $2,000) would not be able to complete their education
without the support of the federal dollars.
Campus Partners is soliciting this type of information from our
customers to share with representatives as a follow up to our
visit. Gathering specific information on the impact of the program’s
elimination on your campus and sharing it with senators and representatives
from your state will make a big impression in supporting the continued
funding of the Federal Perkins program.
Campus Partners is not
the only entity of the opinion that the Administration’s
proposal at best is robbing Peter to pay Paul. In an article published
in the Wall Street Journal “President Bush wants to put
more aid money in college students’ pockets,” The
Wall Street Journal reports. “Here’s the hard part:
Deciding whose pocket to take the money out of first.”
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of the Higher Education Act
On February 2, 2005, House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman
John Boehner (R-OH), re-introduced legislation to reauthorize
the Higher Education Act. The College Access and Opportunity Act
(H.R. 507) seeks to restore the HEA’s original focus, which
is to help low and middle-income students in danger of being denied
access to a college education. The bill not only reauthorized
Perkins at least until 2012, it also increased loan limits significantly
and made other changes that had been suggested to make the program
more efficient. Of course, this legislation has not been passed.
“We need to reform
federal higher education aid programs to put incoming, low and
middle-income students back at the front of the line,” Boehner
said. “The Higher Education Act’s first mission is
to improve college access for low and middle-income students.
It has drifted away from that focus over the years, at the expense
of the very students it was written to serve. We’ve got
to change that.”
It will be up to Boehner and his committee, along with Senate
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Mike
Enzi (R-WY) and his committee to draft the Higher Education Act
reauthorization legislation. Other members of the House Education
and Workforce Committee are listed at the following link: http://edworkforce.house.gov/members/109th/mem-fc.htm.
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