Governor Mills Targets State Workforce Needs and Student Debt with Proposed Funding for UMS Priority Initiatives

Governor’s FY 20-21 budget proposal would increase financial support and program flexibility for career-focused adult learners, expand early college access and Maine career exploration in the state’s local high schools, and support the development of employer-engaged innovations that will grow the size and skills of the Maine workforce

AUGUSTA, MAINE — Governor Janet Mills FY 20-21 budget proposal includes new funding that will expand the University of Maine System’s capacity to address critical state workforce needs.  Resources proposed in the governor’s spending plan will also help lower the cost and debt burden for students preparing for Maine careers through the state’s public universities campus and community-based programs.  Funding is also provided that will increase Maine career exploration through the expanding network of local high schools offering early college programing in partnership with the University of Maine System.

“Maine’s public universities are committed to an efficient and cost-effective continuum of public education that provides the people of Maine with access to flexible, relevant 21st Century learning from early childhood to retirement,” said James Erwin, Chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.  “Governor Mills’ budget proposal provides strong support for the ongoing work of the universities. It also provides new resources for initiatives that facilitate learning and skill development when and where they are most needed by the people of Maine and our employer community.”

“Our institutions have worked as one university to build a statewide capacity for collaboration and resource deployment in focused support of our students, communities and employers,” said James Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System. “On behalf of our staff, faculty and students I want to thank Governor Mills for proposing a budget that advances this work and our shared commitment to educate, inspire, and serve the people of Maine.”

Proposed funding for the University of Maine System includes:

3% Annual Increase In Base Funding:  Governor Mills proposes moving base education and general funding provided for University of Maine System from $189MM million in the current fiscal year to $204MM in FY21. The additional resources will help support the employer engagement and program innovations called for as part of the Declaration of Strategic Priorities adopted by the Board of Trustees late last year to help address Maine’s workforce and community needs.

The funding increase proposed by Governor Mills will also help sustain historic investments in financial aid, new innovations that promise Maine students with the greatest need a college degree free of tuition and fee debt, and Maine’s nation-leading commitment to public higher education affordability.

$3.1MM for Early College:  Early college students have higher GPAs, are more likely to finish with a degree on time, and can save up to $14,000 in tuition, fees, and other expenses.  Maine’s Public Universities offer early college programming in almost every Maine public high school.
The $3.1 in program investments proposed by Governor Mills will strengthen coordination among Maine’s public high schools and Universities to expand early college enrollment.  Funding will also be used to create pathways that allow students to explore careers that lead directly to opportunity in Maine communities such as healthcare, business, education, public safety, and computer science while still in high school.

$4.1MM for Adult Degree Completion:  Maine’s public universities are a founding partner of MaineSpark with a goal of seeing 60% of Mainers hold a credential of value to Maine employers or industries by 2025.  To support that effort the universities are working with community and workforce partners across the state to deliver support and program innovations that meet the needs of Maine’s career-focused adult learners.

Examples of this work include the development of the 100% online YourPace competency-based program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, investments in online education, scholarships, and plans to unbundle degrees into employer-focused microcredentials.

$430,000 for New Ventures Maine:  Administered by the University of Maine at Augusta and the University of Maine System, New Ventures Maine is committed to serving Maine adults through education, empowerment and advocacy.  Tuition-free programs are developed and delivered to help people throughout Maine succeed in a changing economy and achieve economic security for themselves and their families.