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macon.com MIDDAY UPDATE: East Ga. counties prepare for election unrest; college prices up again as economy falters; stocks waffle ahead of Fed rate decision

Augusta-area authorities don't expect any civil unrest on election day, but they want to be prepared, just in case.

As many as 60 deputies in Richmond and Columbia counties will undergo an eight-hour training course Thursday to learn crowd control and disbursement techniques in the event of overexuberant celebrating or worse.

Richmond sheriff's Col. Gary Powell says he doesn't anticipate any problems but "we just want to be prepared in case something does happen."

Powell says the department will not have deputies stationed at local polling centers on Tuesday. He says that since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the department has issued road patrol deputies riot gear, including gas masks, but most have not had formal training.

Associated Press

College prices up again as economy falters

Amid the economic turmoil, students and their families are getting little relief from rising college costs, which jumped 6.4 percent this fall, according to new figures out Wednesday.

And with states aggressively cutting budgets, big increases look almost certain next year, too - if not sooner. At least two states - Rhode Island and Michigan - already have taken steps toward raising prices before next fall, and a half-dozen others are reportedly considering unusual midyear increases.

For the current academic year, the average list price of tuition and fees at four-year public universities rose $394 to $6,585. At private colleges, prices rose 5.9 percent to $25,143, according to the annual "Trends in College Pricing" report from the College Board.

It's important to remember many students don't pay the full list price. On average, students receive about $3,700 in grants and tax benefits at four-year public schools, and $10,200 at private institutions.

And while full costs at some private institutions run $50,000 a year or more, more than half of four-year college students attend institutions costing under $9,000.

Still, while spending on financial aid is increasing, it isn't rising fast enough to hold down the net price.

The report emphasized that, accounting for overall inflation, prices rose less than 1 percent this year, and actually declined at public two-year colleges. But that's only because overall inflation was unusually high - about 5.6 percent.

Associated Press

Stocks waffle ahead of Fed rate decision

Wall Street drifted in quiet trading today after its huge rally a day earlier, as investors awaited an afternoon decision on interest rates from the Federal Reserve. The major indexes alternated between gains and losses.

The market expects policymakers to lower the fed funds rate by a half point to 1 percent, though there has been speculation that smaller or wider cuts are possible.

The only certainty is that Wall Street will pore over the Fed's statement on its decision and its reading of the economy. That assessment, along with any move on rates themselves, could lead the market to retreat, rally or simply shrug off a move that it writes off as expected.

Stocks' fluctuations were not surprising given the light trading volumes and the 889-point advance logged by the Dow Jones industrials Tuesday. The Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500 index posted gains of nearly 11 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 9.5 percent as investors, confident about the prospects for a rate cut, piled into the market to pick up stocks that have become bargains.

The Dow's gain was its second-largest daily point gain; the biggest was its 936-point surge on Oct. 13 that later evaporated as fears about the economy grew. The stock market has been extremely volatile lately - beyond a simple case of investor indecision, the market's back-and-forth moves may also be part of its attempt to establish a bottom.

Associated Press

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