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The U.S. Department of Justice has ended a multi-year probe of higher-education financial-aid practices without bringing charges against any college or university.

All such cases were closed several months ago, according to Daniel Hamilton, a spokesman for the department. But department officials would not reveal how many institutions had been under investigation.

"As a matter of policy,'' said Joseph C. Krovisky, another department spokesman, "we never identify any person, company, or individual under investigation until we file public documents and we've taken some sort of legal action.''

The investigation was launched in the late 1980's, at about the same time as a probe of the "Overlap Group,'' a contingent of high-ranking officials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the eight Ivy League institutions who met each spring to set standard financial-aid packages for students admitted to more than one of the schools.

The Ivy League colleges agreed to stop meeting, leaving M.I.T. as the only school challenging the government's assertion that the practice violated federal antitrust laws barring price-fixing. The U.S. government filed suit against M.I.T. in 1991.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overruled a lower-court decision against M.I.T., and returned the case to the district court for further proceedings. (See Education Week, Sept. 22, 1993.)

Justice Department officials would not comment on the court's decision, nor on any connections between the Overlap case and the recently closed probe of other colleges' financial-aid practices.

President Clinton told lawmakers in a recent letter that a compromise on a series of amendments to the Administration's education-reform bill "strengthens the bill considerably,'' but that he still has unspecified concerns about the version of the legislation the House is expected to consider in coming weeks.

In a letter to Rep. William D. Ford, D-Mich., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, the President said last month that the compromise amendments, which emerged from negotiations between committee members and Education Department officials, contain "some provisions [that] still concern me.''

The Administration had objected to amendments House members attached to its "goals 2000: educate America act'' at the subcommittee and committee levels. (See Education Week, Sept. 29, 1993.)

Committee leaders had been waiting for the end of the negotiations, as well as Mr. Clinton's letter, to take HR 1804 to the House floor.

In negotiations between the House and Senate, Mr. Clinton said, "my Administration will work closely with the conferees to produce a final bill that fully reflects the principles upon which the Administration's proposal was built.''

The Senate bill is expected to resemble Mr. Clinton's original bill more closely than the House bill.

A federal panel studying the U.S. Census has endorsed the use of a statistically adjusted, "one number'' census for the year 2000.

The National Research Council's Panel to Evaluate Alternative Census Methods backed the "one number'' concept, in which sampling and other statistical strategies are used to estimate uncounted persons and adjust the regular count, in an interim report that was released last month.

The report, "A Census That Mirrors America,'' said the policy would eliminate any need to adjust the census after the figures are released. The Bush Administration refused to make adjustments after the 1990 decennial census despite widespread complaints that it had undercounted the poor, the homeless, minorities, and recent immigrants.

The census count determines the distribution of funding under many federal programs, including many Education Department programs. Chapter 1 allocations, for example, are based on the number of poor children in each county.

Congress took the final step toward closing a number of military bases last month, when the Senate refused to pass a resolution that would have thrown out the work of an independent panel that recommended the closings.

The Senate rejected the resolution by a vote of 12 to 83, effectively triggering the closing of 35 large and 95 smaller bases. This round of closures is the third in five years, and another is slated for 1995.

Base closures can have a dramatic impact on schools in affected communities, where enrollment can jump or plunge due to the movement of military personnel and their children.

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