Free community college extended two more years

photo: Janet Mills, Facebook

Governor Mills signs budget funding free college scholarships for high school classes of 2024-25

Tuition-free community college in Maine was extended to two more graduating high school classes under the budget passed by the legislature and signed on July 11 by Governor Janet Mills.

The $15 million investment will allow students graduating from high school or its equivalent in 2024 and 2025 to attend any Maine community college without paying any tuition or mandatory fees – a value of more than $3,800 a year.

“Extending Free College to the classes of 2024 and 2025 tells today’s high school students that the State of Maine believes in them and is willing to invest in them and their future,” said Maine Community College System (MCCS) President David Daigler.

“The scholarship means they won’t have to work multiple jobs while they study or take just one or two classes at a time because they can’t afford more. They’ll have time to focus on learning a trade or becoming a nurse or a police officer or a chef, or pursuing any of the hundreds of degrees or one-year certificates we offer. And they’ll graduate as the kind of skilled workers Maine desperately needs right now and for years into the future. It’s a bold move that benefits workers, employers, and the entire state of Maine,” Daigler said.

Following a proposal from Governor Mills, Maine launched the Free Community College program in April 2022 with a one-time state investment of $20 million, benefiting the pandemic-era high school graduates from 2020-2023. In the first year, 6,400 students attended community college tuition-free.

Earlier this year, some students told lawmakers what a difference the program made for them. Maya Eichorn, now a top student at York County Community College, said she wasn’t even considering college.

“One year ago … I was dropping out (of high school) to take the HiSET exam,” she said. “Today, I am a full-time college student with a 4.0. Without the Maine Free College program, I would be aimlessly moving through life.”

Tuition-free education at Maine’s community colleges is also available to current high school students through OnCourse, an early college program, and for anyone enrolled in most short-term workforce training programs. More information about the Free College Scholarship is available here.


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