Student debt

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

More students in Maine are graduating from high school than ever before — nearly 87 percent last year. And most enroll in college. Yet for many students, particularly those from small, rural schools, staying in college can be a challenge. A new program in Aroostook County is looking into why some rural students may struggle in college and trying to find ways to keep them in school.

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Maine lawmakers are considering a measure that would ask voters to approve a $250 million bond issue to ease student debt.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

The average student loan debt for Mainers who graduated from college last year is more than $30,000, one of the highest rates in the country.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's Republican governor is chiding lawmakers for not following through on promises to attract young people to the state by addressing student debt.
A 2016 Maine law created a program to offer zero-interest loans to selected science, technology, engineering and math students. Gov. Paul LePage said he worked with then-Democratic Sen. Justin Alfond on an unsuccessful bill calling for a $10 million bond to provide funding.
Republican Assistant Senate Leader Amy Volk's bill to allow voters to OK such a bond is set for a Jan. 11 hearing.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

A new initiative is aiming to boost Maine’s labor force by paying off workers’ student debt.

The Alfond Leaders program is a partnership between the Finance Authority of Maine and the Harold Alfond Foundation. Under the new three-year, $5.5 million program, about 150 Maine employees in the science, technology, engineering and math fields will be eligible to receive up to $60,000 to pay off student loans.

Alfond Foundation Chairman Greg Powell says the idea of the program is to keep Maine’s graduates in the state, and potentially lure workers away from other states as well.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Politicians, business leaders, economists and educators agree: The future health of Maine's economy depends, in large part, on growing a younger, more highly educated workforce.

PORTLAND, Maine - A new report from a coalition of grass roots community organizations finds that rapidly-rising student debt is taking a toll on students and their families, and creating long-term economic problems. The report also finds that Maine students face a bigger challenge than others in paying back their debts.  

File photo

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King is working with a Republican colleague to overhaul federal student loan repayment programs. The average loan debt for Maine students attending four-year colleges is just over $29,000 a year - the seventh highest total in the nation.