Act to provide funding

By Dan Jacobsen

Thousands of students will be able to spend time serving their communities at home to help pay for college.

On the South Lawn of The White House at 11:15 a.m. last Monday, President Clinton signed into law the landmark National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993.

A summary of the act, provided by the office of U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, stated the national service initiative is designed to address the nation’s problems by mobilizing Americans of every background, but particularly young people, in service to the country.

The program will fund service ranging from part-time volunteer activities to full-time public service with educational awards.

The focus of service will be based on the unmet educational, environmental or public safety needs. National service must improve the life of its participants, through citizen education and training.

To be eligible to earn an educational award toward a college education, participants may be 17 or older and must be high school graduates or be willing to achieve their high school “General Education Degree.”

Participants will be selected and recruited on a nondiscriminatory basis and without regard to political affiliation. There will be a national and state recruitment system which will help interested people obtain placements in local programs.

To earn an educational award, participants must complete two years of part-time service or one year of full-time service in a designated program. Three years of part-time service will be required if the participant is a student at the time.

Individuals will be able to serve up to two terms and receive two educational awards.

The educational award earned for a term of service will be $4,725. This money can be used to repay loans for higher education or to pay for higher education or job training.

The money will go directly to qualified post-secondary educational institutions. These include two and four-year colleges, as well as training programs and graduate or professional programs.

In President Clinton’s remarks at the signing ceremony of the National Service Bill, he said, “This morning our Cabinet and the heads of our federal agencies were directed to redouble their efforts to use service, community grassroots service, to accomplish their fundamental missions. We want them to help reinvent our government to do more and cost less by creating new ways for citizens to fulfill the mission of the public.

“When I asked our country’s young people to give something back to our country,” he said, “they responded by the thousands.”

Clinton said he has hopes of 20,000 participants in the program next year and 100,000 in three years.

“I hope that some day the success of this program will make it possible for every young American who wishes to serve and earn credit against a college education, or other kinds of education and training, to do that. And I believe it will happen.”

Jerry Augsburger, director of the Student Financial Aid Office, said the program looks positive but some students will be disappointed because of not being allowed to get in because of the large amount of students in the U.S.

“It looks like a good concept and idea but it’s going to be somewhat limited,” he said. “Not every student that wants to be a part of it will be able to.”

Gary Randles, junior computer-science major, said he does not think most college students would be able to participate in the program.

“It sounds wonderful but I don’t know how much time college students will have to do community service,” Randles said.

Kevin Kistner, junior history major, said the program sounds good if it will help the U.S. in what he calls “difficult times.”

“If it furthers the benefit of our society, then it’s OK with me,” Kistner said.