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As college students face an increasing amount of debt from student loans, one higher-education finance group is trumpeting the benefits of privately funded scholarships.

Scholarships financed by corporations, foundations, associations, and individuals have a positive influence on student performance and college-completion rates, according to a survey by the Minneapolis-based Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America, a national nonprofit education-support group that helps administer privately financed scholarships.

The group conducted a national survey of 5,800 recipients of privately funded scholarships who graduated from college between 1990 and 1994. Of the respondents, 76 percent completed college in four years or less--compared with 31 percent of all students nationally--and 69.3 percent said their performance in school was enhanced because of their private scholarships.

Private scholarship recipiients performed better than students overall because their personal connection to college aid served as a major motivator, Marlys C. Johnson, the executive vice president of the csfa, argued.

Last year, more than 500 csfa-managed scholarship programs awarded $33.6 million to nearly 20,000 students.

For its current or prospective students who want to save time and money by graduating early, Stanford University will help them do it "by the book."

The private California university has published a pamphlet that spells out how to earn a bachelor's degree in less than the traditional four years of classes. It suggests earning Advanced Placement credits, taking heavy course loads, and taking summer classes.

The booklet also points out the drawbacks of a speedy graduation. For example, few electives or little summer experience could reflect negatively on a student's graduate-school application.

The publication evolved from Stanford President Gerhard Casper's questioning whether the standard four years was the proper length for every student.

Working toward a career in sports is not always a "hoop dream." A new book published by Careers & Colleges magazine notes that there are only 3,000 professional athletes in the United States but that some 600,000 people earn a living in the sports industry.

The Guide to Careers in Sports provides information on sports-related careers and internships and a directory of college programs in sports management. To order the $20 book, call (800) 964-0763.

--Jeanne Ponessa

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