Student Debt Soars

Maine places the highest financial burden on students of any state in the country. As a result of the high cost of higher education, the graduation rate for Maine students within 6 years of beginning school is well below the national average. Ideas like the one proposed by Rep. Michaud of making Sophomore year free at University of Maine schools would be a step in the right direction and all options should be considered to address this crisis in education.

Since the Great Recession began, states have dramatically cut their allocations for higher education. Nationwide, higher education budgets have been slashed 27 percent since 2008, more than $2,300 per student.

Over the past 30 years, the amount of money states have invested in higher education has been on a steady downward slope. Only Wyoming and North Dakota have managed to marginally increase the amount of their state budget that is dedicated to higher education.

Meanwhile, the cost of college tuition has exploded. At state flagship universities nationally, adjusted tuition and fee charges have increased by 247 percent. Tuition at community colleges, once considered an affordable option in reach of nearly everyone, has increased 164 percent. Those figures are simply for tuition; after adding in books, room and board, the cost rises even more. As students are priced out of education or are forced to take on unsustainable debts, the state and economy suffers and Maine’s future opportunities are narrowed right along with those of Maine students.