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Terrel H. Bell, secretary of education during President Reagan's first term, has criticized the Administration's proposed cuts in aid to college students, saying they constitute an "unwitting assault on the nation's colleges and universities."

Writing in the New York Times spring survey on education April 14, Mr. Bell said that proposals to cut federal loan and grant programs "would result in the transfer of thousands of students from private to public institutions. For this reason, the higher-education package flies in the face of the arguments advanced by the Reagan Administration that Government policy should encourage the private sector to do more so that government can do less."

Although Mr. Bell wrote his article before the Admnistration agreed--in negotiations with Senate Republicans--to new, higher aid limits, he told the Times in an interview that he stood by his main points. The latest proposal would bar aid to families with incomes over $60,000 and limit to $8,000 the college costs that would be taken into account in calculating students' needs.

In the interview, Mr. Bell also criticized his successor, William J. Bennett, for not disputing the proposed cuts--made by the Administration's budget director, David A. Stockman--which were "advanced in earlier years ... but were easily shot down in the Administration because they were so obviously harmful" to both students and schools.

Madeleine C. Will, assistant secretary of education for special education, said last week that the Administration "would like very much to support legislation that would award legal fees" in special-education cases, despite its opposition to the bill now before the House Education and Labor Committee.

Commenting during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the Education Department on her office's proposed 1986 budget, Ms. Will suggest-ed, without elaborating, that the Administration opposed only the specific bill now under consideration.

Meanwhile, the House committee postponed its scheduled vote last week on the measure.

The vote was postponed because of disagreements among lobbyists and committee members about key provisions in the bill, Congressional sources said.

The awarding of lawyer's fees became a matter of concern last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parents who win cases under P.L. 94-142--the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975--could not win legal fees. (See Education Week, April 10, 1985.)

The panel's Subcommittee on Select Education had approved the measure, HR 1523, with two controversial amendments--opposed by the Administration but favored but most advocacy groups for the handicapped--that have stalled its progress: one that would permit the awarding of legal fees at both administrative and judicial proceedings--rather than only at the latter--and another that would incorporate current regulations on the rights of all handicapped individuals into the bill.

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