Gov. Mills Announces Plan for Free Community College

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 4:25 PM EST
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2 years of Free Community College is just one of the ideas proposed by Governor Janet Mills during her State of the State address last week, but what does that mean for Aroostook County? NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard heads to Northern Maine Community College to find out.

“Thinking especially about all those young people whose aspirations have been most impacted by the pandemic, I am proposing making 2 years of community college free” - Janet Mills – Governor, State of Maine

During her State of the State address last week, Governor Janet Mills proposed 2 free years of community college for Maine students who have graduated, or will graduate high school between the years of 2020 to 2023.

“If you enroll full time in a Maine Community College this fall or next, the State of Maine will cover every last dollar of your tuition. Theres so many good paying jobs in healthcare, engineering, the trades, construction, clean energy technology and so many other industries, just waiting for you.” - Janet Mills – Governor, State of Maine

Tim Crowley, President of Northern Maine Community College says the Governor’s announcement shows great confidence in the Maine Community College system, and highlights the value of ongoing education.

“I think for high school students who have been through 2 years of really confusing education, it provides sort of a stabilizing opportunity for them. If you think of what high school juniors and seniors have gone through to get to the end of their high school experience, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to help those students get to a more stable delivery of education that could lead to more education or to a job, so from that standpoint I think it’s a wonderful experiment.”

With hundreds of high school graduates potentially eligible for 2 years of free community college, the idea is to encourage those students to live and work in their communities, however President Crowley says only time will tell what impact this proposed legislation will have.

“I think that’s one of the things we really need to study, I don’t know that it’s going to have a major impact on the workforce of Aroostook County, I think that’s something we’ll have to study because no one’s done this before. So I think that’s something we’ll have to look at very closely. The bottom line is if we can get students to continue their education and continue to develop new skills, they’ll be more valuable to themselves first of all, and their families, and they’ll be more valuable to the economy.”

And as for what it means for Northern Maine Community College….

“So we’ve listened to the Governor’s speech and we’ve heard her comments and we’re excited about that, but the devil’s in the details, so what does this really mean? The legislative process is going to determine what this looks like, so people shouldn’t jump to conclusions one way or the other.”

Until those details are ironed out in Augusta, high school graduates will have to lean on the words of the Governor

“The future is your’s and we will help you embrace it” - Janet Mills – Governor, State of Maine

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

WAGM will continue to follow this proposed legislation and provide updates as they become available.

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