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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Boston Globe Online / Business
Hub colleges ring up big tabs lobbying Congress

BU, a top spender, paid $760,000 last year

By Aaron Zitner, Globe Staff, 03/27/98

ASHINGTON - Boston-area colleges and universities spent hundreds of thousands of dollars last year to lobby Congress on a range of issues, from the overhaul of financial aid rules to a possible repaving of Huntington Avenue near Northeastern University.

Boston University said it paid $760,000 in lobbying costs last year, part of a 13-year campaign to win money for building construction and infrastructure. That effort has landed the university $56.5 million in federal grants since 1985, said BU spokesman Kevin Carleton.

Among Boston-area colleges and universities, BU appears to be one of the biggest spenders on lobbying, by several measures.

BU spent far more than the $202,000 reported by Northeastern University, though the schools have about the same number of students. Northeastern has 24,300 graduate and undergradute degree students, compared to 26,300 at BU.

BU also spent more money than Harvard University, though it receives far less in federal research funding. Harvard said it spent $460,000 on lobbying last year, including $100,000 for outside lobbyists and $360,000 on work by its own staff, such as management of a 60-school ''science coalition.''

Boston College said it spent $78,000 on outside lobbyists last year. Figures for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could not be obtained yesterday.

Carleton, the Boston University spokesman, said the $760,000 the school spent last year is about on par with the previous few years. He said the university received ''good value for the money.''

''If you compare it to the $56.5 million in grants, it is very good,'' he said. Lobbyists also kept the school informed about about issues before Congress, he said, such as potential changes to the laws on student aid. He said the school's lobbyists have also arranged for BU officials to testify at congressional hearings.

James Rowe, vice president for public affairs at Harvard, said the university does not try to persuade Congress to insert grants or special appropriations for itself in bills. He said Harvard tries to work with Congress and federal agencies to ensure a pool of research money for all schools, from which Harvard can win for peer-reviewed research grants.

The BU strategy ''is a very different approach than at Harvard, but it appears they have been very successful,'' Rowe said.

Each year, Congress takes up a variety of issues that are important to colleges, ranging from tax changes to affirmative action. Last year, Congress also began a review of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which controls how billions of dollars in student financial aid are spent.

This story ran on page C04 of the Boston Globe on 03/27/98.
© Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.

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