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The low rates of inflation and slow economic growth that have characterized the 1990's mean parents should start saving as early as possible for their children's education, an investment analyst warns in a new book published by the College Board.

"Paying for College: A Guide for Parents," written by Gerald Krefetz, explains how colleges calculate the amount of aid they award students and offers guidelines for how much money families should set aside each month toward future college costs. The book defines a variety of savings instruments--including savings accounts, money-market funds, and stocks and bonds.

Copies of the book are available for $17.95 each from College Board Publications, Box 886, New York, N.Y. 10101-0886. Specify the title and item number 004396. Credit-card orders can be placed by calling (800) 323-7155.

The U.S. Education Department weighs in on the costs of college and related topics in a new publication, "Preparing Your Child for College: A Resource Book for Parents."

The 49-page booklet describes different types of colleges and what they expect from entering students. It also features a checklist of what students can do to prepare for college beginning as early as 9th grade.

Copies of the publication are free from the Consumer Information Center, Department 510B, Pueblo, Colo. 81009; (800) USA-learn.

Current and proposed financial-aid policies are threatening student access to community colleges, according to a report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington.

The study, conducted for the Association of Community College Trustees, found that the number of community-college students receiving Pell Grants dropped by nearly 43,000 between the 1992-93 and the 1993-94 academic years. At the same time, the number of recipients having the greatest need increased by 7 percent.

The report predicts that proposals by Republicans in Congress to eliminate the in-school interest subsidy on loans could increase student debt by 15 percent to 20 percent. And Democratic plans to create skills grants and introduce a tax deduction for tuition would be unlikely to help ease the financial burden of the most economically disadvantaged students, the report says.

Copies of the study are available for $20 each from the A.C.C.T., 1740 N Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 775-4667.

--Meg Sommerfeld

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