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College $$

WRAPPED inside their diplomas, today's college graduates find debt repayment schedules. Loans make up two-thirds of the typical financial aid package - up from 25 percent 10 years ago. Family strategy is to contain student indebtedness.

Help was proposed last Thursday by Sen. Claiborne Pell (D) of Rhode Island. He introduced a bill that would allow families to put aside $2,000 a year per child in a special government trust fund, whose earnings would not be taxable. It would differ from individual retirement accounts, which are, upon withdrawal, taxed at the level of the retiree's retirement-income bracket. The money would not be taxed upon withdrawal if used for tuition or other college expenses.

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Contributions to the fund would be taxed by adjusted gross income levels - totally deductible for families earning up to $25,000; 50 percent deductible for families earning $25,000 to $60,000; 25 percent for family incomes $60,000 to $100,000; and zero deduction above that. Using the funds for things other than education would face penalty and taxation.

The Senate should give Mr. Pell's education trust plan a supportive look.