A proposal before lawmakers would waive half the tuition to attend the University of Maine for many in-state students.

LD 512 was introduced by Senator Mike Tipping and aims to cut the costs for many Maine students to attend the University of Maine system. It is, in part, an answer to the Governor's program that provides free community college to Maine students. Tipping says the uptick in students enrolling for a free community college education is pulling them away from U-Maine.

Who Would Be Eligible?

Not everyone would be eligible for the waiver, but it would be available to full-time students who graduate from a Maine high school in 2023, 2024, and 2025. In addition, a person who obtains the equivalent of a high school diploma during those three years would also be eligible. In addition, the waiver would be offered to students who are looking to finish their degree, provided they've lived in the state for at least five years and have only a year or less of courses left in order to complete their degree program.

What Other Requirements are Included in the Waiver?

In order to receive the waiver, a student would be required to:

  • Be enrolled at a campus of the University of Maine system full-time
  • Pursue an associate or bachelor's degree or academic credential
  • Live in the state of Maine at the time of enrollment at a campus of the University of Maine system and for the duration of that enrollment
  • Accept all available federal and state grants, scholarships, and other sources of funding
  • Maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0

The bill received its first public hearing on Monday before the Legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

Do Maine Students Generally Have a Lot of Debt When they Graduate?

Enrollment has been down in the University of Maine system, in recent years, as student debt has gone up. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, 63% of Maine's graduates have a considerable debt load by the time they graduate. In fact, they say an average college student graduating in 2020 in Maine will have built up a debt of $32,764.00.

The measure could mean significant savings for students at the University of Maine, if it is enacted. In-state tuition for this academic year at U-Maine is over $11,000.

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