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UDC President Urges Full Funding of 'Perkins Loan' Program


Washington, DC - University of the District of Columbia President Dr. Allen L. Sessoms is urging President Obama and Congress to fully fund the Perkins Loan Program.  President Sessoms has sent a letter to Dr. Martha Kanter, Undersecretary of Education for the U.S. Department of Education, expressing his strong support of continuing the program. He also applauds the dialogue at an event sponsored this week by Northeastern University to discuss the program’s value.

“As president of the only public university in the nation’s capital, I consider it absolutely critical that we do whatever we can to extend and sustain educational opportunities for students across the country,” said President Sessoms.  “Here in Washington, we know all too well how a college degree can change someone’s life for the better.  If we have the means to sustain this program, we simply must do it.”

The Federal Perkins Loan Program provides low-interest loans to eligible students and their families to cover the cost of postsecondary education.  Perkins Loans provide over $1 billion annually in need-based aid to more than a half-million low-income college students at 1,800 participating colleges and universities nationwide.  In 2009-2010, the average per student annual Perkins award was $2,125.

"There is no more critical thing we can do than help someone who wants an education to get it," said President Sessoms, who is himself a testament to the power of education. Growing up in a crime-ridden South Bronx neighborhood of New York City, President Sessoms never doubted that he would attend college, deciding at age four to become a scientist. Many UDC students grew up in similar neighborhoods, where illiteracy is a real concern.

"Studies have shown that while 47 percent of District residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, 37 percent are illiterate and in need of remedial education before even considering college," President Sessoms said.  "That is unacceptable.  Our mission is to close that gap."

Perkins is a "campus-based" loan program, which enables participating institutions to target students with exceptional financial need and to determine the loan amounts for individual students.  The school acts as the lender, using a limited, revolving loan pool of funds capitalized by the federal government.  Currently, the Perkins Loan Program is set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2014.  The Obama administration has proposed methods to enhance and expand Perkins in the FY 2012 budget, and Dr. Sessoms believes making these changes now will benefit thousands of deserving students, many of whom attend UDC.  In fact, more than 70 UDC students have received a loan through the Perkins program in the last three years.

As the only urban land-grant institution in the United States, the University of the District of Columbia ( supports a broad mission of education, research and community service across all member colleges and schools, which include the Community College, College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, College Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Public Administration, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and David A. Clarke School of Law.

The University of the District of Columbia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution. Minorities, women, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For a full version of the University’s EO Policy Statement, please visit:

The University of the District of Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education - 3624 Market Street - Philadelphia, PA 19104 - 267.284.5000


Alan Etter, Vice President of University Relations & Public Affairs,, 202.345.6371