At a recent meeting with student govenment, interim dean Jennifer Church called my attention to a website for a grassroots campaign to try to save the Perkins Loans. When President Bush issued his proposed budget for the fiscal year 2007, he eliminated the line item for Perkins Loans.
This is a major concern for the Carnegie Mellon community. We have an endowment that is already smaller than many peer institutions like Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford, and that hampers the financial aid packages Carnegie Mellon is able to offer its students.
On average, somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of undergraduate students on campus receive Perkins Loans as a part of their financial aid packages. The average student who takes out a Perkins Loan receives about $3000. I spoke to Linda Anderson, the director of Student Financial Assistance and Services, and she believes students will be able to receive other loans to help compensate for the potential loss of
Perkins Loans; however, those will be at higher interest rates.
I have only known about this for a few weeks, and during that time I have contemplated how the students should approach it. In the next few days you will see a campaign similar to the one student government initiated around the PAT budget cuts last year. Expect to see an e-mail from your Senator or me detailing how you can help. You will have the opportunity to write a letter to Pennsylvania’s Senators and representatives or, for those who don’t know what to say, to fill in a form letter, and student government will take care of mailing the letter. You’ll hear a little more about this next week.
Due to the unfortunate timing of the Perkins Loans cuts and student government elections, I feel I need to split this column to make everyone more aware of both. I encourage anyone who is interested or who would like to make a change on campus to run for student body president, student body vice-president for finance, or Student Senate. All you need to do is gather 100 signatures from students for an executive position or 25 from students in your college for Senate.
These elections will be held April 24 and 25. If you are planning on running for student body president or Senate and have any questions, feel free to contact me. Good luck to all the candidates!