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Federal Scholarships Could Be Cut $130M

David D. Hsu
Associate News Editor

A House of Representatives subcommittee's approval to cut undergraduate scholarships by $130 million in fiscal year 1995 will affect neither current scholarship recipients nor MIT's tuition and self-help rate increases, according to Stanley G. Hudson, director of the Student Financial Aid Office.

The proposal, part of a Republican initiative to balance the national budget, was approved by a House education appropriations subcommittee on Feb. 22.

"Clearly, we should put a priority on educating our young people and preparing the next generation for the jobs of the future," said Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.).

"It is unconscionable that while the Republican majority hammers Americans about personal responsibility,' they are taking away the very tools that young people need if they are to become productive, contributing members of our country's future."

Still, education cuts do not fall strictly along partisan lines. "There's been talk [of cuts] for a long time" among both parties, Hudson said. "Clinton proposed that [state student assistance grants] be cut, but the Democratic Congress got it back."

The proposal still must pass the full Appropriations Committee and then both houses of Congress before being implemented. "We have to remember it's just a subcommittee," said Catherine E. Whitcomb, manager of scholarships and grant services for Illinois. "It'll be a pretty neat trick if they pull it off."

Federal financial aid money, excluding Stafford loans, totals $5 million out of MIT's financial aid budget of $34 million, said Hudson.

The biggest proposed cut is $34 million in State Student Incentive Grants. However, state grants can be used by only a few MIT students, and the effect would be relatively small, said Hudson.

Cuts in other scholarships would hurt undergraduates. National Science Scholarships and Byrd Honors Scholarships total $700,000, of which $450,000 goes to needy students, Hudson said. "If [National Science and Byrd Scholarships] went, it would be costly," he said.

The impending cuts would have little effect on the proposed increases in tuition and self-help. "We've got all the information on next year's tuition and self help," said Hudson.

Little effect on current students

Administrators of the scholarships are still unsure of the possible consequences of the budget cuts. Many scholarships like the National Science and Byrd Scholarships are managed on the state level, said Whitcomb.

Most states have already awarded most of their appropriated money for the current fiscal year, so any cut now would have no immediate effect on students, said Whitcomb. "I'm very unclear on how [Congress] thinks the bill is going to work," she said.

If reductions were passed, renewal students would be awarded first, Whitcomb said. Scholarships would be awarded to fewer applicants, she said.

Students concerned with aid

Many students consider their financial aid package in choosing their university; a cut in scholarships would have influenced some decisions to attend MIT.

"If MIT would not do anything to account for any changes, then it would affect my decision to come to MIT," said Abbe J. Cohen '96, a National Science Scholar.

"A $1,000 cut would probably affect a decision to come to MIT. I don't know if I would not come here, but it would push the balance toward another school," said Meghan A. Jendrysik '97

Some feel that a reduction of scholarship money would not make much of a difference when tuition costs are already so high.

"I really doubt that $800 would be that big of an issue for a student applying to MIT," said Michael S. Allen '97, another National Science Scholar.

For others, the concern lies with the need to replace scholarship money with loans.

"It wouldn't affect my decision [to attend MIT] at all. It would make life after a lot harder because I would have to take out more loans," said Catherine E. Preston G.