U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is calling on Senate Republicans to reconsider their decision to block a federal student loan program that he said helped more than 9,000 students in Rhode Island.
Reed, a Democrat, said Saturday that the Perkins Federal Loan Program - which expired Oct. 1 after Republicans blocked legislation to extend it - is the nation's oldest federal loan program and is a critical financial aid tool that helps low-income students finance their education.
Reed said there are about 1,500 colleges that participate in the program, including nine in Rhode Island.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said the interest rate for Perkins loans is higher than other loans. He said he wants Congress to replace the program with simpler loans that have lower interest rates and more generous repayment plans.