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Maine's community college system urges lawmakers to support free tuition proposals

The head of Maine's community college system is urging lawmakers to support proposals to offer free tuition to recent high school graduates.

Gov. Janet Mills has proposed using $20 million of the state's surplus to offer up to two years of free community college to students whose high school years were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Community college system president David Daigler said the program will be open high school grads between 2020 and 2023 who agree to enroll full-time.

"They can enroll in a training program for a line worker, they can become a police officer. They can study engineering or computer science or they can get a sports management degree. It's really an incredible opportunity," Daigler said. "We believe this bold initiative can transform the lives of thousands of young people who feel stranded and abandoned due to circumstances beyond their control."

Mills has also proposed spending $2.5 million to double the number of graduates from nursing programs at community colleges.