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Educators Back Clinton Plan, With Some Reservations With AM-Clinton-College Bjt

March 2, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Educators generally gave high grades Monday to President Clinton’s plan for students to pay for college through public service, but some worried it had been scaled down too far to be effective.

Clinton proposed a far less ambitious program than he outlined as a candidate last year. The potential cost is billions of dollars less than his original plan.

″I think it shows he is a realist given the financial state of the nation,″ said Michael Frazier, an assistant professor of public administration at Howard University in Washington.

In a speech at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Clinton proposed a $15 million pilot project of about 1,000 students this summer. He proposed spending $7.4 billion over the next four years, growing from 25,000 service slots in 1994 to more than 100,000 in 1997. Funding would increase in subsequent years based on demand and the program’s performance.

The president compared his plan to the GI Bill’s offer of education to servicemen returning from World War II.

″The proposal has the double value of making a college education affordable and nurturing a more compassionate, public-spirited consciousness among our young people that will spread throughout the country,″ said Rep. William D. Ford, D-Mich., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

C. Peter Magrath, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges said Clinton put forth ″an innovative plan″ that will make the difference for some students who might otherwise be forced out of school to work.

But the head of one of the nation’s largest university systems said Clinton has oversold the program.

″I see a lot of merit in national service, but what alarms me is that it is being sold by some as a program expanding access to higher education and that it most patently is not,″ said D. Bruce Johnstone, chancellor of the State University of New York System.

The SUNY system serves more than 400,000 students on community and four- year college campuses. Johnstone also is chairman of the board of trustees of the College Board.

Johnstone noted that Clinton’s program will serve only a small fraction of the 5 million students who receive college financial aid each year.

″What we really need is a fully funded Pell Grant program to reduce some of the burden of borrowing″ for college, he said.

Clinton has proposed spending $2 billion to clear a deficit in the Pell Grant program, but full funding by some estimates would cost as much as $8 billion extra each year. Congress has authorized individual Pell Grants up to $3,700, but it provided enough money for maximum grants of only $2,300.

Frazier of Howard University said it was ″absolutely essential″ that Clinton implement the program gradually because of the enormous potential costs.

″That’s not politically popular because people are hurting now,″ he said. ″But change in America is incremental, it’s not radical.″

Phyllis Hooyman, financial aid director at Hope College in Holland, Mich., praised Clinton’s plan, saying, ″Any federal program that makes young people believe that a college degree is within their grasp is well worth our support.″

But Fred Waldstein, director of the Leadership Education Institute at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, was more cautious.

″In principle, I think this is a good idea, but how it is implemented so it’s efficient raises some questions,″ he said.

Waldstein said Clinton should rely on community service programs that already exist on college campuses.

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