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                       Office of the Press Secretary
                              (Houston, Texas)
For Immediate Release                                 September 26, 1997


September 26, 1997

Community Colleges are Dynamic Institutions that Provide a High Quality, Affordable Education. Today the President travels to San Jacinto College, near Houston, to release a new report on community colleges by the U.S. Department of Education. Fifty years after the Truman Commission Report called for a nationwide network of public community colleges, this report highlights the critical role being played by community colleges in preparing the workforce of the 21st Century. The report describes how these institutions provide a high quality education to a diverse array of Americans at various stages in their lives and careers, and underscores that community colleges are remarkably affordable, with average tuition and fees expected to run just over $1,300 next fall.

The HOPE Scholarship Cuts Tuition and Fee Costs at Community Colleges by 88%. New projections by the Department of Education indicate that in the 1998-99 school year, the HOPE Scholarship will cover up to 88 percent of the national average full-time tuition and fees at community colleges. In seven States, including Texas, HOPE covers up to 100 percent of community college tuition and fees. In 35 States, the HOPE Scholarship covers up to 75 percent or more of tuition and fees. 5.8 million students are expected to benefit from the HOPE Scholarship at all types of higher education institutions.

Pell Grants Will Benefit 1.4 Million Community College Students. The Department of Education estimates that 1.4 million community college students will receive an average Pell Grant in 1998-99 of $1,810. Pell Grants are available on a sliding scale based on income and can be used to cover tuition and fees as well as living expenses associated with college. The Bipartisan Balanced Budget Agreement includes the President's proposal for the largest increase in the grant in two decades, to a maximum of $3,000. Some students will qualify for both a Pell Grant and a tax credit (HOPE or Lifetime).

7.1 Million Will Benefit from Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. For students beyond their first two years of college, including those who are returning to school (full or part time) to upgrade their skills or change careers, the Taxpayer Relief Act offers a 20 percent tax credit for the first $5,000 of tuition and fees paid by a student. It is expected that 7.1 million students will take advantage of the credit to help pay for postsecondary education.

Many Adults Who Return to School Will be Shortchanged if Congress Does Not Finish the Job. Unless Congress follows through on the President's Pell Grant proposals -- as required by the Bipartisan Balanced Budget Agreement -- more than half a million adult students will find that their income is too low for them to benefit from HOPE (because they do not have sufficient tax liability), but they are not considered poor enough for a sufficient Pell Grant (223,000 will not be eligible for a grant at all). Those affected are students over 24 or veterans, and are either single or married without dependent children. A House-Senate conference committee is currently considering this issue. If they do not act to address this problem, college may be out of reach for students like a 22-year-old veteran making only $10,000 a year, a married 35-year-old with joint income of only $14,000, or a 30-year-old with income of only $11,000.