Published Online: March 5, 1997

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A small college in Minnesota has taken a giant step for community service.

Augsberg College in Minneapolis has launched what appears to be the most generous scholarship program of its kind for students who have participated in the AmeriCorps national-service program. The college has announced that it will start offering scholarships of $5,000 each year, up to $20,000, to first-year, full-time students who have served in AmeriCorps and enroll at Augsberg.

The scholarship is in addition to the $4,725 in federal vouchers for higher education that students receive for a year of service with AmeriCorps. The total cost for tuition, room and board, and fees at the 3,000-student private, liberal-arts college is currently $18,080.

Charles S. Anderson, the president of Augsberg, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said in a statement that the offer was in keeping with the school's motto, "Education for Service," and its commitment to community-service programs.

Although colleges in Rhode Island have offered to match the $4,725 AmeriCorps voucher, the four-year Augsberg offer appears to be the biggest scholarship of its kind, said a spokesman for the Washington-based Corporation for National Service, the nonprofit organization that runs the AmeriCorps program.

Augsberg's overture "sets an example for colleges and universities throughout the country and recognizes that national service is a vital investment in our future," first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in a letter congratulating the college.

An overwhelming majority of Californians believe that a college education is essential for a decent job and middle-class lifestyle, a survey has found.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents felt that young people would have better job prospects if they went on to college than if they took job offers right out of high school.

The survey also revealed that those polled were less pessimistic about access to higher education than respondents to an earlier poll were.

The survey's authors attribute the shift in opinion to the fact that there were sharp increases in higher education tuition and fees for California colleges prior to the 1993 study, but that since then costs have been more stable, with either small increases or none at all.

The New York City-based Public Agenda conducted the study of 800 California residents last fall for the California Higher Education Policy Center, a think tank based in San Jose.

--JEANNE PONESSA jponessa@epe.org

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