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5spd manual transmission problems, possible clutch plate? to fix or not to fix?

(1998 Volkswagen Jetta)
in Poughkeepsie, NY on June 20, 2013
I have a 1998 VW Jetta 5spd manual, It began having issues where I would go to accelerate and the engine would just rev with little to no forward motion, noticed this a couple times upon starting, but stopped shut it off, restarted put it in gear and was fine. Then it started doing it when going up hill, then it got to where it was hard to get it to go, this happened around the time a bearing went out in the front. spent the day at a mechanic, got one bearing fixed only to lose three more on the way home, when it rains it pours right? the mechanic advised that the clutch plate was prolly to blame and that the other bearings were going, also has check engine light on and needs some pretty major exhaust work. I guess these have a tendency to rust out underneath and mine isn't rusted, but the mechanic was hesitant to reccomend the repairs due to the cost and the age of the car. The car has around 165k miles 20k i put on in one year, so ive really driven the hell out of it. The guy i bought it from said he had just replaced the clutch plate, but ive heard that once that goes and you change it, you will need to change it yearly, unless you do more to the tranny, is that true? Sorry about the run on nature of this question, I was just trying to get all the facts out before i ask if I should repair it or scrap it? and if i were to repair it, do you think from the description of the issues it really is the clutch plate or has the whole tranny taken a crap and how can you tell the difference? any advice would be very much appreciated, and in case anyone is wondering, its been a really great car for me, and i HATE the thought of scrapping it, I really would like to get it up and running again. Thanks for any input.
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