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Maine Congressman Wants to Make Sophomore Year Free



By Chris Hassan
Posted February 26, 2014 11:00 AM

Maine congressman wants to make sophomore year free.
Maine congressman wants to make sophomore year free.

With the cost of earning a bachelor's degree as high as it is, many students would gladly welcome an academic year free of tuition. This could be the case in Maine if U.S. Rep. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud has his way.

Based on Michaud's economic development plan, the details of which were recently shared at a campaign event, the congressman would like to see students attending college in the University of Maine System not have to pay for their sophomore year, the Bangor Daily News reports.

Inside the Plan

Michaud's desire to see Maine produce more college graduates should come as no surprise to those familiar with the issues that matter to the congressman. According to Michaud's website, a college degree is out of reach for too many individuals in and outside of Maine. For this reason, Michaud is dedicated to making sure all children in the state has access to higher education, regardless of their economic background.

The idea of offering a free year of college to students is part of Michaud's "Maine Made" plan, which is designed to build the state's economy. Overall, waving tuition for college sophomores who are enrolled at any University of Maine System schools would cost the state $15.1 million, according to a separate Bangor Daily News article.

Despite the high cost, such a move is a necessity from Michaud's point of view. Based on information contained in the plan, one-third of first-year students in the system don't continue their studies beyond freshman year.

Views on the Plan

Liam Nee, a senior enrolled at The University of Maine, is among the students in favor of Michaud's plan. Nee told the Bangor Daily News that he and his peers understand they will be in debt after graduation. Such a move could alleviate that problem for other students.

Others, such as Brent Littlefield, a strategic adviser for current Gov. Paul LePage's gubernatorial campaign, are more focused on the logistics of such a plan.

"He certainly has not outlined a way to pay for it unless he wants to increase taxes," Littlefield told the Bangor Daily News. "And the very students that he's trying to help are going to have to pay those taxes."

As there are still many months between now and the 2014 Maine gubernatorial election in November, the idea of offering students a chance to complete their sophomore year free of charge is sure to receive more attention.

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