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THE BIG PICTURE

In today’s fast-changing workplace, a high school diploma doesn’t carry the weight that it used to. Learning must be lifelong in order for Maine’s workforce to be competitive in the global economy. MaineSpark is a coalition of organizations across Maine working together to help every Mainer achieve a postsecondary credential of value, with the goal that 60% of Mainers will hold such a credential by 2025. In 2020, 51% of Mainers hold postsecondary degrees or credentials of value.

We must increase access and achievement at every stage of the pipeline in order to achieve this goal. In addition, we need to ensure that postsecondary pathways are accessible to and affordable for Maine families.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • 60% of Maine high school graduates enroll in college in the fall after graduation and 67% of students return for the second year of college.
  • 63% of first-time, full-time Maine college students complete their degrees within 150% of the normal program time.
  • In 2017-2018, the average net price of college for Maine students was $16,667 (36% of per capita income) and the average student debt was 15% of per capita income.
  • 51% of Mainers hold a postsecondary credential of value.

COLLEGE-GOING & PERSISTENCE

Improved preparation and financial support for postsecondary education—in the traditional K-12 system, Career and Technical Education, and alternative pathways—will increase the proportion of Maine students enrolling and persisting in higher education.

COLLEGE ENROLLMENT BY STUDENT GROUP (2019)

(% of students enrolling in the Fall immediately following graduation)

60%ALL STUDENTS

60%

ALL STUDENTS

45%Economically Disadvantaged

45%

Economically Disadvantaged

71%Not Economically Disadvantaged

71%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

66%Female

66%

Female

53%Male

53%

Male

60%American Indian/Alaska Native

60%

American Indian/Alaska Native

72%Asian/Pacific Islander

72%

Asian/Pacific Islander

56%Black or African American

56%

Black or African American

57%Hispanic/Latino

57%

Hispanic/Latino

57%Two or More Races

57%

Two or More Races

59%White

59%

White

COLLEGE PERSISTENCE BY STUDENT GROUP

(% of students returning for a second year in the Fall of 2019)

67%ALL STUDENTS

67%

ALL STUDENTS

53%Economically Disadvantaged

53%

Economically Disadvantaged

75%Not Economically Disadvantaged

75%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

69%Female

69%

Female

64%Male

64%

Male

61%American Indian/Alaska Native

61%

American Indian/Alaska Native

74%Asian/Pacific Islander

74%

Asian/Pacific Islander

58%Black or African American

58%

Black or African American

58%Hispanic/Latino

58%

Hispanic/Latino

63%Two or More Races

63%

Two or More Races

68%White

68%

White

COLLEGE COMPLETION

College completion opens many doors for Mainers entering the workforce. Maine people with a college degree are eligible for more and higher-paying jobs than those who do not complete college. Below, college completion is counted as 150% of the normal program time (e.g. six years at a 4-year institution).

COLLEGE COMPLETION RATES BY STUDENT GROUP (2019)

(% of students enrolled in 2013 who earned a 2- or 4-year degree by 2019)

63%ALL STUDENTS

63%

ALL STUDENTS

40%Economically Disadvantaged

40%

Economically Disadvantaged

74%Not Economically Disadvantaged

74%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

69%Female

69%

Female

55%Male

55%

Male

33%American Indian/Alaska Native

33%

American Indian/Alaska Native

68%Asian/Pacific Islander

68%

Asian/Pacific Islander

60%Black or African American

60%

Black or African American

63%Hispanic/Latino

63%

Hispanic/Latino

65%Two or More Races

65%

Two or More Races

63%White

63%

White

GRADUATION WITHIN 150% OF NORMAL PROGRAM TIME FROM THE INSTITUTION OF INITIAL ENROLLMENT (DEGREE-SEEKING STUDENTS)

COLLEGE COST AND DEBT

The cost of college and student debt burden has a great influence over who enrolls in higher education and whether they graduate. Higher education needs to be more affordable for Maine students, closing the affordability gap with New England.

COLLEGE COST & DEBT IN MAINE VS NEW ENGLAND (2017-18)

AS A PERCENT OF ANNUAL INCOME

36%

MAINE

Average Net Price $16,677
34%

NEW ENGLAND

Average Net Price $21,829 
15.3%

MAINE

Average Annual Student Loan $7,111
11.7%

NEW ENGLAND

Average Annual Student Loan $7,549 

MAINERS WITH POSTSECONDARY CREDENTIALS OF VALUE

Postsecondary credentials of value include college degrees, skilled trade credentials, and professional certificates and certifications. Educate Maine and MaineSpark set a goal that 60% of Mainers will hold a postsecondary credential of value by 2025. While we have made significant progress in this area over the last several years, we still have work to do in order to achieve our state-mandated goal of 60% of Mainers with a postsecondary degree by 2025.

PERCENT OF WORKING-AGE ADULTS (25-64) WITH A POSTSECONDARY DEGREE OR CREDENTIAL*

*Occupational credential estimates added starting in 2015; short-term credentials added in 2018

LEARN MORE

 

Did you know?

  • Students who do not complete college are three times more likely than college graduates to default on their student loans.
  • The average Maine student/graduate holds over $30,000 in student debt.
  • 95% of all American jobs created since 2009 have gone to people with college degrees or other postsecondary credentials.

Dig Deeper

What Maine Communities are Doing

  • The MELMAC Education Foundation has worked with over half of Maine’s high schools to implement best practices that support students in aspiring to and enrolling in postsecondary education following high school graduation. Select best practices include scheduling college visits, hosting financial aid seminars, and providing college transition programming for high school seniors. You can see the full list of best practices here.
  • The Maine Community Foundation has over 600 scholarship funds for Mainers seeking postsecondary education. The foundation is investing in Maine adults not only by providing funding for education, but working on a number of initiatives with partners across Maine communities to reengage and support adult learners who are returning to postsecondary education or enrolling for the first time.
  • Many students, particularly first-generation and low-income students, indicate that they will enroll in college the fall after high school graduation but do not show up on campus in the fall – this is often referred to as Summer Melt. In Maine approximately 20% of students melt, with higher rates at Maine’s Community Colleges. The MELMAC Education Foundation and Finance Authority of Maine recognized this issue and partnered to provide a texting platform to schools to automate messages to their students over the summer. The program has been effective with engaging students, answering their questions and supporting them over the summer when they can often fall through the cracks.

Take Action

  • Support increased enrollment in Career and Technical Education (CTE) – an excellent path toward a host of credentials and high-paying, in-demand career pathways here in Maine. You can find your closest CTE school and learn more about CTE in Maine here.
  • Advance Vermont has published 5 Tips for Talking about Education and Training After High School that anyone can use. The tips include considering an individual’s personal purpose for pursuing future education and reinforcing the variety of credentials available.
  • If you or someone you know wants to find additional education or training in Maine but you don’t know where to start, visit the MaineSpark Adult Promise Hub. You can fill out a form to get paired with a Navigator who can help. Another great resource is the Maine Community Foundation’s Adult Learner Scholarship Fund page, which lists several scholarships and support organizations that can get you on track to meet your education goals.
  • Contact your legislator to advocate for higher education affordability. There are many ways to reduce student debt, including increasing the amount of federal Pell Grant grant funding available to economically disadvantaged students and streamlining the FAFSA process. See the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act to learn more about possibilities for expanding Pell Grants, and visit the National College Attainment Network’s Fix FAFSA webpage to learn more about FAFSA. Those are just two ideas of many possible avenues.
  • Need help paying for college? The Financial Authority of Maine can help with scholarships, loans, and college savings accounts, and more.
  • Spread the word: the Maine Adult Degree Completion Scholarship is available to Maine residents who started a degree program but never finished. More details about scholarship eligibility are here.