West Point Has Its Hand Out

West Point cadets come here expecting to work hard, in and out of the classroom -- without complaint. While the nation's oldest military academy looks as solid as its imposing gothic buildings, some problems can't be overlooked.

"The bleachers are falling apart," claims Meaghan Conroy, a West Point Cadet.

"I'm captain of the racquetball team, and I know from experience that we do not have as good a facilities as other tier 1 schools do," said Cadet Andrew Kovanen.

West Point insists it can't stretch the federal appropriation -- this year $193 million -- any further. So it's trying something different, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"Fundraising is truly a new aspect of military academies," said Mike Mahan, President of the West Point Fund. "I didn't expect it when I graduated."

To avoid violating federal law, the alumni association, not West Point itself, is leading the fundraising campaign. The goal: $150 million by 2002.

Government funding covers only what's considered core programs. Those are the academic and military requirements that lead to a degree and an army commission. But West Point says it needs programs and facilities above and beyond that in order to compete with other top schools, which are also going after the best and the brightest students.

But at a time when the post-c0ld war military budget is under pressure, one defense specialist warns that successful fund raising could cost West Point federal support.

"The idea that the military is getting more innovative about finding financing is natural and a good thing," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute. "But it does give us the opportunity to rethink whether we are giving too much money to these institutions."

As the long gray line stretches into the new millennium, congress and the nation must decide how much is too much, and who will pay to train future military leaders.