State Update

Maine Files Bill to Increase College Affordability and the Rate of Degree Completion

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Senate President Justin L. Alfond (D-ME) has sponsored LD 1703 (SP 668), along with more than 50 co-sponsors. Although no formal bill text has been released, the concept draft summary states that the bill would implement a comprehensive strategy to keep the cost of public postsecondary education in the state affordable, thereby increasing the graduation rate from state public institutions of higher education. The comprehensive strategy may include, but is not limited to:

  • Adoption of Oregon’s "Pay Forward, Pay Back" pilot project's model of funding public postsecondary education, under which a student enrolled in a public institution of higher education, in lieu of paying tuition or fees, contracts to pay to the State a certain percentage of the student's annual income upon graduation for a specified number of years;
  • Scholarships to provide incentives for degree completion with agreements to remain in the state after graduation for specified periods. Under this program, a full scholarship for the 4th and final year of school at a public institution of higher education will be provided to students who agree to work in the state for a certain period of time following graduation;
  • Tuition guarantees that ensure that students will pay the same tuition for four years while attending one of the state’s public institutions of higher education;
  • Low interest rates for student loans issued by the state for students meeting certain criteria, such as financial need, academic merit, graduating within four years or agreeing to work in public service for a certain period after graduation;
  • Adoption of performance-based higher education funding that links the level of funding of a state public institution of higher education to a metric such as the graduation rate of that state public institution of higher education;
  • Transition from the provision of tax credits for higher education to the provision of state grants and other forms of financial aid for higher education;
  • Increased funding to the State of Maine Grant Program;
  • Facilitation of expedient graduation through establishment of dual-enrollment programs and so-called “3 plus 1 programs,” in which students attend community colleges for three years and transfer for the final year to a four-year program at another of the state’s public institutions of higher education; and
  • Expansion of online learning opportunities, including the use of online course providers to develop online courses.