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The college-savings plans being considered in many state legislatures and the Congress may appear at first glance to be as "wise and beneficial" as the successful individual retirement accounts, but they are in fact "a wolf in ira clothing," according to a Heritage Foundation researcher.

The government-sponsored plans "would open the door to subsidies for wealthy families, a boost in college fees, and increased government interference in the economy," writes Peter J. Ferrara, the John M. Olin Fellow in political economy at the conservative think-tank.

"A much better plan," he concludes, "would create a true ira clone for education, a tax-exempt savings plan, managed and invested, as are individual retirement accounts, by private financial institutions."

Gov. John A. Ashcroft of Missouri has proposed such a plan, Mr. Ferrara notes.

A new study by the New England Education Loan Marketing Corporation challenges the growing perception that an increasingly heavy reliance on college loans is having a detrimental effect on students' access to higher education and their lives after graduation.

In fact, the study's authors say, the majority of borrowers they surveyed said loans had increased their access, and that loan repayments had not affected their ability to buy cars and other consumer items.

The study was based on a survey of 2,000 Massachusetts residents currently repaying federal guaranteed student loans. Its authors note that results should be interpreted with some caution, due to the limitations of the sample.

Copies of "The Impact of Student Loans on Borrowers: Consumption Patterns and Attitudes Towards Repayment," are available free of charge from: Nellie Mae, Office of Communications, 50 Braintree Hill Park, Suite 300, Braintree, Mass. 02184.

Improving the education of minority students--and ensuring that more blacks and Hispanics go on to higher education--will demand that community colleges in inner cities form more effective links with high schools, a new report concludes.

"Urban community colleges must step up their recruitment of black, Hispanic, and other minority students," said William Mann, chairman of the commission on urban community colleges of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges, which prepared the report.

"They must work with high schools to pave the way to college through goal-oriented programs," he said. "They must take steps to ensure that those students remain in the community college through the completion

of an associate degree and are given proper preparation for entrance into a four-year college, should that be their goal."

The report notes that the two-year postsecondary institutions share many characteristics common to urban schools, such as high minority enrollments, high dropout rates, and an underrepresentation of minority teachers and administrators.

Copies "Minorities in Urban Community Colleges: Tomorrow's Students Today," are available for $7.50 each from aacjc Publications, 80 South Early St., Alexandria, Va. 22304; telephone: (800) 336-4776; in Virginia, (703) 823-6966.

College and university officials must change their attitudes toward women, who now make up a majority of enrollments, a report by an American Council on Education commission maintains.

Issued at the ace's annual convention in Washington last month, the report notes that, despite gains over the past few years, women remain underrepresented in the collegiate curriculum and in campus leadership positions.

It recommends that college presidents correct inequities in hiring, promotion, and tenure; provide a supportive atmosphere for women on campus; and commit themselves to identifying, encouraging, and developing women leaders.

Copies of the report, "The New Agenda of Women for Higher Education," are available for $2 each from the ace Publications Department, 1 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036.

A cooperative agreement reached by nine Western states will enable students in the region to attend out-of-state colleges there at substantially reduced tuition rates.

Under the arrangement, which will take effect next fall, students attending one of the participating out-of-state institutions will pay tuitions that are roughly 50 percent higher than those charged in-state residents. Tuition charged out-of-state students now can be as much as four times that of state residents.

Participants in the agreement for 1988-89 are 53 two- and four-year public institutions in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

Eligibility requirements vary from state to state and not all degree programs are open to students at the reduced tuition rate, according to officials from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which coordinated the program.

Further information is available from the Student Exchange Program, wiche, P.O. Drawer P, Boulder, Colo. 80301-9752; telephone: (303) 497-0214.--rr

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