President Clinton signed legislation Tuesday allowing students to trade public service work for college tuition, promising that it will help the nation “strengthen the cords that bind us together.”
The law, a watered-down version of Clinton’s initial plan, gives as many as 100,000 youths tuition, modest stipends, health insurance and child care in exchange for community service.
The President said he had “harbored this dream for years.” He dubbed the first new program of his Administration “AmeriCorps” and appointed Eli Segal, his chief lobbyist for the legislation, as the program’s new head.
Clinton used two historic pens to sign the legislation during a campaign-style rally on the South Lawn of the White House. One was used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create the Civilian Conservation Corps and the other by President John F. Kennedy to set up the Peace Corps.
The new law allows students who complete two years of community service work to earn $4,725 a year to apply toward college tuition or student loans. Participants also would earn living allowances of at least $7,400 a year and health care and child day care benefits.
The first programs could be running by the middle of next year.