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

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A New York state senator wants to bring back a federal college loan program that Congress let expire.

The federal Perkins Loan had turned the dream of higher education into a reality for low income students. But the program is now gone after Congress lit it expire in September.

Senator Charles Schumer said the program provided $120 million in aid to New York colleges. Now, he’s calling on Congress to make college more affordable.

Alondra Sanchez is the first in her family to go away to a four-year college.

“I’m really thinking that this is a blessing because no other school offered me this opportunity except Albany,” she said.

Sanchez’s mother makes $250 a week, and tuition at the University at Albany seemed out of reach.

“How am I going to afford this? How is financial aid going to cover all of this?” she wondered.

Through the Educational Opportunity Program, or EOP, the Perkins Loan helped cover tuition for Sanchez. But now that the program has expired, Sanchez is without the loan unless the senate renews it.

Otherwise, she will have to come up with $1,000 a year.

“To have that taken away, to have a gap that we have to constantly pay each year, I honestly can’t afford that,” Sanchez said.

Maritza Martinez is the director of EOP at UAlbany. She said taking away the Perkins Loan is an injustice.

“This is their chance,” she said. “This is their opportunity to go after that American Dream, and here we are taking away the thing that makes that possible for them.”

Senator Schumer was on the UAlbany campus on Monday to urge students to call, write and tweet their representatives to keep the Perkins Program.

“But make sure they know how important this is,” he said. “They don’t just say, ‘Gee, I’m for it.’ But they join our fight to make sure it is restored.”

Students said if the Perkins Loan isn’t renewed, they might need to transfer schools.