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November 16, 2018

Maine trails New England in college grad rate, affordability

About Educate Maine

Educate Maine is a business-led education advocacy organization that champions college and career readiness and strives to increase the educational attainment of the Maine workforce.

The organization believes all students should graduate high school prepared to succeed in postsecondary education and in the workplace, and the number of Maine people with a college degree, a postsecondary certificate, or a professional credential must increase to meet the demands of the economy.

Maine continues to lag behind the rest of New England in the proportion of students completing college on time, and more Maine students have difficulty affording it.

A study released Thursday by Educate Maine, a business-led advocacy organization, found that 56% of the state's college students obtain an associate's degree within three years or a bachelor's degree within six. The college completion rate for all New England students was 63%, according to the 2018 data.

While Maine's average trails those of its neighbors, the annual study revealed improvement over last year. In 2017, Educate Maine found less than half of the state's students completing college on time while students averaged 58% across the region.

The 2018 study also found that in Maine college costs averaged 39% of per-capita income, and the average college loan equaled 17% of that amount. The New England averages were 35% and 12% respectively.

Those results are about the same as the previous year's findings.

A top concern identified in the report is an ongoing achievement gap for the state's economically disadvantaged students.

In Maine, 63% of high school graduates enroll in college within a year of earning their diplomas, just under the national average. But the Maine rate varies dramatically according to the students' financial resources.

In fact, only 50% of economically disadvantaged graduates go to college in the next year, while 75% of non-disadvantaged students do, Educate Maine found.

Lower-income students are less likely to participate in early childhood education programs, less likely to be proficient in reading and math, less likely to graduate from high school, and less likely to successfully pursue a postsecondary education or career, according to the group.

"The achievement gap is a real problem and continues to grow the divide between students in communities with resources and those in communities without," said Executive Director Ed Cervone in a news release.

"We have a responsibility to create opportunities for all students to succeed, and we need to close those gaps by directing investment and support to those communities with the greatest need."

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Educate Maine 2018 report

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