WASHINGTON -- President Clinton has signed legislation that would expand academic options for graduates of public or private high schools in the District of Columbia by substantially reducing their tuition at state colleges in Virginia and Maryland and by offering grants for tuition at private colleges in the area.
"This act helps to level the playing field for the young people of the District of Columbia by expanding opportunities for affordable higher education," Clinton said.
The law, which is part of a strategy to encourage families to remain in or move to Washington, would allow students from the city to qualify for the tuition rate paid by state residents at public colleges in Virginia and Maryland. Students attending public colleges would be eligible for $10,000 a year, a reimbursement that would go directly to the colleges. Students at private schools could receive up to $2,500 in tuition aid.
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and representatives from a dozen colleges and universities in the area introduced the law last week, emphasizing the importance of higher education and the need for access to it.
"We want to let parents and students here in the district and all over the nation know that college is within reach," Riley said.
Hundreds of students living in the city who now pay out-of-state tuition to attend any public college other than the University of the District of Columbia could see their tuition cut by more than 50 percent. Students paid $7 million in out-of-state tuition fees last year.
In a similar effort to retain residents in Washington and attract new ones, the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 gave first-time homebuyers a $5,000 federal tax credit for buying in the city.
To be considered for the tuition grants, high school graduates must have lived in the city for a year before beginning college and must start college within three years after high school graduation, unless they first serve in the military, Peace Corps or Americorps, President Clinton's national service program.