BANGOR, Maine — Tuition at Maine’s seven community colleges will increase by $2 per credit hour beginning next fall.
Trustees of the Maine Community College System voted unanimously to support the 2.4 percent increase on Wednesday during a meeting at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.
The hike is needed to offset a potential $3.7 million deficit in the coming school year, driven by state budget cuts and increases in operational costs, according to board chairman Daniel Wathen. Wathen said the board was reluctant to raise tuition during a time when many families are struggling to keep their kids in college.
“Our goal during this difficult time is to keep our programs intact and our tuition affordable so we can meet the enormous need for our services,” Wathen said Wednesday.
Beginning with the fall semester, in-state students will pay $84 per credit hour, up from $82. Annual in-state tuition will increase from $2,450 to $2,520.
Tuition for out-of-state students will increase as well, remaining twice the in-state rate.
Tuition at the community colleges has risen each year since 2005. That year, students experienced an 8.8 percent increase of $6 per credit hour. In 2006, the cost went up by 5.4 percent, or $4 per credit hour. Tuition has gone up by $2 per credit hour in each of the last three years.
According to information provided at the meeting, about 15,000 students attend Maine community colleges, primarily in two-year academic programs and vocational courses.
Since 2003, when the campuses transitioned from technical schools to community colleges with a stronger focus on academic courses, the colleges have experienced a 63 percent increase in students seeking two-year degrees. Many students transfer their credits to four-year colleges to complete bachelor’s degrees.