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Student Association Raps Proposed Aid Cuts

February 7, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A group representing college students called President Reagan’s proposed education cutbacks a step ″backwards to the future″ Friday and called on Congress to maintain student aid programs in the fiscal 1987 budget.

Tom Swan, president of the U.S. Student Association, told a news conference he felt ″disgust″ toward the administration’s plan to eliminate nearly $2 billion in grants, loans, jobs and other aid. The cuts would come as tuitions are rising above the rate of inflation, he said.

″Students have not caused the deficit,″ said association vice president Cecilia Ham, a recent graduate of the University of Iowa. ″The deficit is not because of overspending on education.″

Education Secretary William J. Bennett defended the cuts proposed this week, saying ″the American people, including federal government, are still being quite generous toward America’s students.″

″There will not be a student in America who wishes to go to college who will not be able to ... get a good college education,″ he said. The budget proposes that 1.4 million of the 5.7 million students now receiving assistance be cut off from aid.

The student association, which claims to represent 4.5 million students, said some of the administration proposals would start hitting students during the current academic year. Those who don’t lose aid completely will be forced to limit their career options to high-paying jobs - discarding, for example, plans to become teachers, of which Bennett says there is a shortage, the group said.

Natalie Hart, a student at St. Louis University, said she was the first in her family to attend college and it was made possible through federal aid.

″One of the themes of President Reagan’s State of the Union was ’Back to the Future,‴ she said. ″But I have to say to Mr. Reagan I think we’re going backwards to the future.″

Swan, a student at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, was asked why many college students seem to strongly support Reagan despite his repeated attacks on education subsidies.

Congress has blunted the president’s efforts to slash college aid, he said, and students identify ″very much with the image the president puts foward and the good feelings″ he emotes.

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