DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old high school junior who is busy searching to find the right college. I’m in the top 10 percent of my class, active in extracurricular activities and community services, and have never given my parents an ounce of trouble.

My problem is my mother and I do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to researching colleges. My family doesn’t have much money and cannot afford to send me to an expensive university, which I fully understand. However, Mom gets mad when I inquire about ANY school out of our price range.

My reason for wanting to survey all my options is to seek as much information as possible about financial aid, work grants and scholarships. Mother refuses to entertain the idea of co-signing a loan. She has come right out and said I’m wasting my time and being delusional.

I think I am realistic. I accept the fact that I won’t be going to an Ivy League school. But I see no harm in refusing to limit myself to state-funded schools. Am I on the right track, or is Mom way ahead of me? – TIRED OF BEING NAGGED IN NEW YORK

You are asking intelligent questions. But the person you should be asking is your counselor at school. From my perspective, knowledge is power. There are many scholarships available, and you are wise to explore all of your options – including the Ivy League.

DEAR ABBY: Please alert your readers to a program that has been established to help military retirees who have service-connected disabilities. Congress has authorized special compensation to help offset military retirement pay that is forfeited in order to receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This program began June 1, 2003. It is called Combat- Related Special Compensation (CRSC). The program is only for those who have at least 20 years of military service and who have combat- or operations-related disabilities. This includes any disability that resulted in award of a Purple Heart, or conditions rated by the military or the VA as 60 percent to 100 percent disabling, and caused by combat or combat/operations-related events.

Abby, I hope you’ll publicize this important program to help compensate disabled military retirees who have given so much to this nation while protecting our freedoms. – VICE ADM. NORBERT R. RYAN JR. USN (RET.)

I’m pleased to help spread the word. I’m sure many retired veterans will be grateful for your letter.

Military retirees: To find out more about CRSC and how and where to apply for the program, contact the retiree affairs office at the nearest military installation or go to the Department of Defense Web site at

DEAR ABBY: When you asked readers to report on their success or failure after they remarried their former spouses, I was reminded of a story.

A man who had recently remarried his first wife ran into an old friend whom he hadn’t seen for some time, and told him he had just gotten married again. “Congratulations,” said his friend. “I sure hope she’s better looking than the first one!” – HOWARD IN VIRGINIA

Which proves that the only thing more dangerous than commenting on a former spouse’s looks is commenting on the person’s virtue.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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