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I appreciated the recent BDN editorial supporting free community college as an important investment. The value of Maine’s community college system, our state’s public university system and the other higher education institutions is immeasurable when it comes to preparing our state’s workforce for the jobs Maine employers are looking to fill, particularly to address the increasing workforce shortage.
Post-secondary training and education also helps put Mainers on paths to succeed in careers that benefit them individually, and strengthen their families, communities, employers and Maine’s economy. Investing in expanding education opportunities is tremendously worthwhile.
The editorial highlights the increased importance of support for education due to the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on much of Maine’s student population. Educate Maine recently cited data in our annual Education Indicators report, which found that college enrollment and persistence rates declined from 2019 to 2020 among Maine students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Covering two years of tuition for the approximately 8,000 Maine students eligible for this program will give a boost to some of the students who need it the most.
Free community college will also help us reach our state’s education attainment goal: ensuring that 60 percent of Mainers will hold education and workforce credentials by 2025. We are getting close to achieving that goal. The $20 million approved in the state supplemental budget for free community college and the investment in the public university system will help us cross the finish line.