How USA funds unites banks, colleges, and students

It's a fascinating, well-written, and painstakingly researched study of the the USA Funds (United Student Aid Funds).

And important for all involved in both the giving and getting of student aid.

This isn't a ''how to'' book on where to go for aid, but a fast-paced history of this one special nongovernment program for putting together banks, colleges, and the students who needed the loans.

And all the more needed today, as both private and public sources of funds for higher education are in a state of flux.

Yet, we're dealing with a phenomenon just 20 years old.

In fiscal year 1961, for example, no USA Funds loans were outstanding.

In 1971, some 266,838 loans were outstanding; and in 1980, that figure nearly doubled to 448,319.

From zero to almost half a milliion students in 20 years is an enormous undertaking. Perhaps many of those thousands of students would have made it to college without USA Funds loans, but then again, perhaps many would not.

The book: ''College on Credit,'' A History of United Student Aid Funds 1960- 1980, by Harold and Gwyneth Barger, Hackett Publishing Co., PO Box 55573, Indianapolis, Ind. 46205 ($8.50).

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