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As Students Struggle to Pay Tuition, Schools Scramble to Trim Budgets

The money crunch: Colleges and universities try to cut costs without lowering quality -- but still tuitions climb; that's bad enought for all students, but minorities especially risk being priced out of higher education.

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HOLLY SNIFF, who is the first person in her family to attend college, found out about making hard choices early on. "I really wanted to go out of state for school, but because of financial reasons I couldn't," says Ms. Sniff, who is now a sophomore at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

For as long as she can remember, Sniff has been putting away money for her education. "I saved every dollar I was given as birthday presents or special treats as a child," she says.

Those childhood savings along with summer earnings and additional financial help from relatives got Sniff through her first year of college. But tuition continues to rise, and Sniff, along with millions of other students, is struggling to keep up.

At the same time, both private and public colleges and universities are moving beyond trimming at the margins to control costs.

Many schools are freezing faculty salaries, suspending hiring, delaying building maintenance, limiting course offerings, and even cutting academic departments.

Administrators are finding that they can no longer fund every project, department, or program. In the 1991-92 academic year, 57 percent of all colleges and universities were forced to reduce their operating budgets, according to an annual survey by the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C.

At the University of Vermont, a budget committee's proposal to eliminate the School of Engineering led to an uproar and the eventual resignation of the university's president.

AS state funding shrinks, public universities are being forced to increase class sizes and cut back on student services. Students at California's public universities have staged massive student protests against overcrowded classes and eye-popping tuition increases.

Nationwide, public colleges raised their tuition and fees an average of 10 percent and private-college increases averaged 7 percent this year, according to the College Board's annual survey released last month.

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