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April 20, 2016

LePage, Alfond get green light on student debt legislation

Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, are touting passage of LD 1657, a bill that makes three major changes to the Opportunity Maine tax credit program.

“I am proud that the governor and I teamed up on the creation and passage of this bill,” Alfond said in a statement about the passing of LD 1657. “We are both steadfast in our commitment and determination to address the serious workforce development issues facing our state. The expansions in this bill are based specifically on feedback we received from constituents who are anxious to qualify for the valuable student debt relief that the program offers.”

  • Eliminating transfer restrictions for students who have earned more than 30 credits from an out-of-state college or university, allowing a qualified individual who earned a bachelor's or associate’s degree from an accredited Maine college or university to be eligible for the Opportunity Maine regardless of the number of transfer credits they may have earned at a non-Maine school. Additionally, students who transferred after 2008 will now be eligible for Opportunity Maine tax credits. Previously students were only eligible if the transfer occurred after 2012.
  • Merchant mariners who are employed at least part-time on a vessel at sea will now qualify for Opportunity Maine tax credits, not unlike state residents stationed out of Maine in service for the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • LD 1657 also expands the employer credit to include eligibility for graduate degrees earned by qualified employees and by removing the principal cap relative to qualified employees, further encouraging businesses in Maine to foot student loan payments for their employees.

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