The recent budget cuts at Northern Virginia Community College demonstrate the shortsightedness of the Wilder administration {"NOVA Cuts 29 From Payroll," Metro, Aug. 23}. Community colleges are one of few educational alternatives open to low- and moderate-income people. NVCC students are not asking for government handouts. We are people working to improve our skills so that we can contribute to the welfare of our families, the state and the nation. We are being denied this opportunity to help ourselves.

Higher education is essential to the economic well-being of this country. Programs like NVCC's cooperative education program, which was almost eliminated by the budget cuts, allow students to develop practical, work-related skills in conjunction with their studies. This program benefits students without work experience as well as career changers like myself. Northern Virginia suffers from shortages of skilled workers in many fields. Why deny employers access to this highly motivated group of students?

An administration that denies thousands of students, including low-income and working people, educational opportunities open to the more affluent should lose the support of Virginia voters. Many of us are willing to pay more to support education; some of us cannot. Regardless, the benefits of higher education do not go to students alone. The governor's budget cuts, along with his refusal to allow any, however modest, tuition increases, show his shallow commitment to education.

CAROL M. BRUCE Annandale