Jubilant Howard University students ended their takeover of the school's administration building early yesterday, three days after the start of a tense confrontation with university administrators and D.C. police over Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater. The occupation of the building ended before dawn after university officials and student leaders signed a "covenant" on eight demands following negotiations that involved Mayor Marion Barry and Jesse L. Jackson, who went to the building about 10 p.m. Wednesday. "We left the table with everything we wanted," said a jubilant Garfield Swaby, a senior who is president of the Howard University Student Association. "If you are right, you will win." Howard University President James E. Cheek agreed in an eight-point memorandum not to punish students for the protests and to pursue student goals that included speeding financial aid processing, better campus security and development of an African American graduate studies program. Participants in the negotiations said Jackson persuaded Cheek by telephone to sign the agreement. Barry also pressured the university to settle by telling university officials last night that he was adamantly opposed to using District police to arrest the students, according to participants. In a statement late Wednesday, Cheek had threatened to have students arrested if they failed to leave the building by the end of the day. Yesterday, the campus was quiet, as officials returned to the administration building for the first time since students expelled them Monday, and students who had spent most of the past week protesting returned to their dormitories and books. One student leader estimated that as many as 3,000 Howard students, out of a total enrollment of about 12,000, participated in the protest at various times. Protest leaders went to Capitol Hill yesterday to discuss their grievances with members of Congress, just before a House Appropriations subcommittee heard Cheek give previously scheduled testimony. Cheek said the university was taking action to meet three key demands: improved security, speedier financial aid processing and better housing. He made no direct reference to the building takeover. But after he left the hearing room, April Silver, one of the protest leaders, shook Cheek's hand warmly. "We thank you for your cooperation," she told him. "We're glad things worked out the way they did." The student uprising began last Friday, when more than 2,000 students disrupted the university's convocation ceremonies to protest Atwater's appointment to the Board of Trustees. The protest forced the cancellation of a keynote speech by entertainer Bill Cosby. At the end of the protest yesterday, students called on the Board of Trustees to appoint Cosby to the seat briefly held by Atwater. The protest had focused on aspects of Atwater's management of the Bush presidential campaign that students believe were racially tinged. On Monday, more than 1,000 students had escalated the protest by taking over the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration Building. Early Tuesday, more than 100 District police officers, many in riot gear, were poised to retake the building at Cheek's request when Barry arrived and told the students they would not be arrested. Later that afternoon, Cheek said the students would not be forced out of the building and the police left. Atwater resigned from the board later that day, but students remained in the building until yesterday morning, saying other demands had not yet been met. More than 2,000 students were squeezed into the administration building's five floors Wednesday night as lawyers and negotiators hammered out the wording of the "covenant" between the students and the administration. When Jackson and Barry, accompanied by Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) and members of the 10-student committee that organized the protest, entered the packed first-floor lobby about 3 a.m. to announce a settlement, a sea of students erupted into shouts. Jackson, who spoke to students on all four floors, led students in prayer, praised the protest's leaders, and told the students they scored a moral victory by forcing Atwater to resign from the board. "Congratulations, Howard, you won!" Jackson told a cheering fourth-floor crowd. "Those around the country who act like Atwater will get the Howard treatment . . . . You have inspired the entire nation." Shorty after Jackson, Barry and Fauntroy left, hundreds of students exploded out of the building's main entrance, screaming "We won!" and hugging each other and marching across campus. Many students emerged from the building ecstatic, but some said they doubt whether the administration would honor some of their commitments. "It's not over yet," said Felicia James, a senior. "I want to see follow-through, action." The uprising was initially focused almost exclusively on forcing Atwater off the board, but by last night, chants of "I've got a feeling, Atwater snuck in behind our backs" were replaced by "Where the hell's my GSL, my Pell Grant and my loans?" referring to the various types of financial aid students said were not being processed by the school. Under questioning by Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) at yesterday's congressional hearing, Cheek said he was "bewildered" by the long delays at the university in processing applications for federal student aid, which about 80 percent of Howard students receive. But he said correcting the problem was "a major priority . . . . " Cheek testified in support of a Bush administration request for a $184.9 million federal appropriation for Howard next year, a 3.3 percent increase. He said the trustees had authorized borrowing $60 million to build two new dormitories for 1,660 students and to renovate existing dormitories, which students said are often shabby and poorly cleaned. Acknowledging student fears about security, Cheek said Howard's main campus on Georgia Avenue NW is "located in a reasonably high-crime area . . . {that} has many of the features of an urban ghetto . . . . There are pockets of dope activity all around our campus."Staff writer DeNeen Brown and special correspondent David DaCosta contributed to this report.