Tax credit would include students who pursued degrees not available in Maine
AUGUSTA – Maine residents who go to college in other New England states because their course of study is not available in Maine would be eligible for the Maine Educational Opportunity Tax Credit under a measure sponsored by Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.
“Many students who study elsewhere in New England want to return to Maine,” said Chenette. “By expanding this tax credit to them, we can ensure that more students return to our state to live and work.”
The Maine Educational Opportunity Tax Credit, also known as Opportunity Maine, offers reimbursement to college graduates or their employers for student loan payments. Under the current rules, the graduate must have completed an associate or bachelor’s degree in Maine and must work in the state.
The bill would expand the program to students who are pursuing or have pursued a course of study available only at a public institution outside of Maine as part of the New England regional student program. This program, offered by the New England Board of Higher Education, enables thousands of New England residents to enroll at out-of-state New England public colleges and universities at a discount.
After graduating and entering the workforce, many college graduates pay a large portion of their income on student loan payments. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average college graduate incurs more than $29,000 in student loan debt.
“Our state has a high rate of student loan debt that cripples young people’s ability to start their lives and keeps many from attending college,” Chenette said. “We need to do everything we can to help young Mainers fund the foundation for their futures.”
The bill was referred to the Taxation Committee, where it will receive a public hearing in the coming weeks.