Final Report of the Commission to Study College Affordability and College Completion December 9, 2014

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1 Final Reprt f the Cmmissin t Study Cllege Affrdability and Cllege Cmpletin December 9, 2014 Page 1 f 32

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3 Intrductin The Cmmissin t Study Cllege Affrdability and Cllege Cmpletin was created by the 2nd Regular Sessin f the 126 th Maine State Legislature by Reslve, Chapter 109 (See Appendix 1). As a general missin, the Cmmissin was required t examine and make recmmendatins n the develpment f strategies t keep the cst f public pstsecndary educatin in the State affrdable and t increase the graduatin rate f students enrlled in state-supprted public institutins f higher educatin. The Cmmissin was further tasked with the fllwing specific respnsibilities: Review Oregn's "Pay Frward, Pay Back" pilt prject's mdel f funding public pstsecndary educatin, under which a student enrlled in a public institutin f higher educatin, in lieu f paying tuitin r fees, cntracts t pay t the State a certain percentage f the student's annual incme upn graduatin fr a specified number f years; Review the pssibility f increasing funding t the State f Maine Grant Prgram that bsts the minimum grant frm $1,000 t $1,500 fr eligible Maine residents; Review the initiatives prpsed by the public and independent clleges and universities in the State as part f the March 2014 "Imprving Cllege Affrdability and Cmpletin in Maine" reprt submitted t the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs; Review the extent t which Maine's public institutins f higher educatin supprt the state refrms included in the Octber 2013 "The Game Changers" reprt prepared by Cmplete Cllege America; Review the mandatry fees charged t students beynd the price f tuitin charges, including technlgy and labratry fees; Review the affrdability f cllege textbks, including cnsideratin f the csts and benefits f pen surce textbks, fr cllege students in the state; Review ther pertinent reprts including the Statewide Educatin and Wrkfrce Develpment Strategic Plan submitted t the Legislature n January 30, 2014; and Review and examine ther strategies that a majrity f the cmmissin members agree t include in this review. The 13 members f the Cmmissin were appinted by July f 2014 and were required by law t submit a final reprt t the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Services by December 9, The Cmmissin was cmpsed f the fllwing appinted members: Senatr Rebecca J. Millett, Chair; Senatr Brian D. Langley; Representative Matthea Daughtry, Chair; Representative Brian Hubbell; Representative Matthew Pulit; Rbert Clark, President f Hussn University, representing the Maine Independent Cllege Assciatin; Jhn Fitzsimmns, President f the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System; Gianna Marrs, Directr f Student Financial Aid, University f Maine, representing the Maine Assciatin f Student Financial Aid Administratrs; Ryan Lw, Vice President fr Administratin and Finance, University f Maine, representing the University f Maine System; Wendy Ault, Executive Directr, MELMAC Educatin Fundatin, representing a nnprfit entity that prvides financial assistance t students; Mila Tappan, Cllege Access and Outreach Manager, representing the Finance Authrity f Maine; Elizabeth True, Vice President f Student Affairs and Enrllment Management, representing Maine Maritime Academy; and Page 3 f 32

4 Lisa Plimptn, Directr f Research, the Mitchell Institute, representing a statewide educatin plicy research institute. T accmplish its missin, the Cmmissin met six times in Augusta n the fllwing dates: 1. August 5, August 26, September 18, Octber 8, Octber 22, Nvember 12, 2014 (Cpies f the Cmmissin meeting summaries have been are psted n the Cmmissin s website and are available in electrnic frm frm staff persn Lck Kiermaier; Panel Discussins and Presentatins Cmmissin Activities T supplement and expand upn the infrmatin cntained in the varius reprts that the Cmmissin was mandated t review, the Cmmissin rganized and cnducted a number f discussin panels regarding specific tpics that were relevant t the verall tpic f cllege affrdability and cmpletin. These panels included students, parents, educatrs, members f the cmmissin and varius subject experts. (A cmplete list f panel participants is included as Appendix 2.) In additin, the Cmmissin benefitted frm several presentatins regarding cllege affrdability and cmpletin. Brief descriptins f each presentatin and panel with the salient pints f discussin are as fllws: Student Panel n Cllege Affrdability (August 5, 2014): This 7 persn panel included current students frm Central Maine Cmmunity Cllege, University f Maine at Augusta, Maine Maritime Academy and the University f Suthern Maine. The students ranged in backgrund and experience frm first time traditinal students t adult learners with families that had returned t cllege. Several f the students had transferred t their present cllege frm ther private and public clleges. Each student gave a brief presentatin f their experiences and perspectives n cllege affrdability and cmpletin. The cmments made in these presentatins included the fllwing: One student had transferred frm a private in-state cllege t the MCCS under the terms f an articulatin agreement that resulted in cnsiderable savings t that student and his family; The majrity f panel members rely n their parents and families fr significant financial supprt; Many f the panel members als had t make use f a cmbinatin f grants and lans resulting in sizeable prspective pst-cllege debt; Anther student had successfully transferred frm CMCC t UMA but was experiencing cnsiderable difficulty in securing grants t be able t attend UMA and felt financially penalized by the fact that her family wned a secnd hme in Maine that was used fr vacatin purpses; Anther current UMA student with a family f her wn felt that grants and ther financial aid infrmatin were nt readily available nr were they tailred t meet the needs f a nntraditinal student. In additin, this student cmmented that the csts f textbks were quite high, represented a significant additinal cst and that many f the required textbks were nt available fr lan reference at the UMA library; A student currently attending MMA had made the deliberate decisin t pursue grants and lans t be able t attend MMA with the understanding that his likely pst-cllege earnings wuld be sufficient t cver his student debt; Page 4 f 32

5 A current student at USM had made the decisin t attend that schl based largely n affrdability and lcatin. He further cmmented that mre effrt needs t be made t meet the financial needs and circumstances f many nn-traditinal students wh are wrking full-time while attending USM and suggested that emplyers shuld be incentivized t wrk with and emply students; Anther MMA student believes that the federal student lan prgram des nt accurately assess the financial capacity f a family t pay fr cllege csts; and wishes that better and mre accurate financial aid infrmatin had been prvided t him while in high schl; and A female MMA student spke f her belief that that much mre utreach is needed t encurage yung wmen t pursue the mre technical, prfessinal careers that are pssible by attending schls like MMA and feels that the pprtunities fr invlving students like herself in high schl utreach effrts is beginning t ccur. Maine Cllege Affrdability & Cmpletin Presentatin by Malia Sieve, Senir Assciate at HCM Assciates (Octber 8, 2014): T help rient the Cmmissin t basic cncepts f cllege affrdability and cmpletin, Ms. Sieve was invited t make a presentatin which included the fllwing pints: Cllege affrdability is best understd when the fcus is n students and what they can affrd; The affrdability f cllege is cmplicated because: f a wide array f differing financial situatins; a great deal f infrmatin abut thse students that dn t enrll is simply nt available; in a cllege cntext, expensive and unaffrdable mean different things; the significant differences between reality and perceptins regarding the cst f cllege; net tuitin csts and financial aid prgrams have different impacts n different incme brackets What cnstitutes an affrdable cllege educatin? Defining unmet need which is the gap between cst f attendance and the financial resurces f a student; Making a distinctin between an expensive cllege and an affrdable cllege; and Due t recent high levels f unemplyment, many uncertain utcmes exist fr pstgraduate emplyment pprtunities and incme. Cllege is affrdable fr whm? Again, the answer t this questin shuld fcus n students- nt parents; Parents and ther family members shuld be regarded as a surce f financial subsidy; and The ability t pay shuld rest n the student after cmpletin Financial supprt principles fr cllege affrdability shuld be designed t : Make cllege mre affrdable fr lw-incme students; Make cllege prices mre predictable and transparent; Prvide incentives t students and institutins t increase cmpletin and lwer prices; and Align federal, state, and institutinal plicies and prgrams. Panel n the Maine State Grant Prgram (August 26, 2014): The cnvening f this 3 persn panel was preceded by a presentatin frm staff members f the Finance Authrity f Maine (FAME) which is respnsible fr administering the Maine State Grant Prgram (MSGP). During that presentatin, the fllwing infrmatin was presented regarding the MSGP: The Maine State Grant, administered by FAME, is the state s basic need-based undergraduate grant prgram; Page 5 f 32

6 Students apply thrugh the Free Applicatin fr Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); The current cut ff fr grant awards is based n a determinatin f Expected Family Cntributin (EFC); the cut-ff pint is dependent n funding and take-rate ; In recent years, FAME has awarded ver 10,000 Maine students a maximum grant f $1,000 annually; The buying pwer f the grant has been erded ver the years, bth by cuts in funding and by the cmmensurate rise in the ttal cst f a higher educatin; Over the past ten years, state apprpriatins used fr the grant have been reduced by twenty-ne percent; FAME is seeking t bst the state s cmmitment t the grant via increased funding; The federal Pell Grant prgram nw cvers just ne-third f the csts f higher educatin; it cvered three-quarters f the csts in the 1970s; The maximum MSGP award was $1,000 in 1992 and remains s in 2014; FAME is permitted t establish by rule tiered award amunts but has nt yet dne s; MSGP individual grants shuld be at least $2,500 in 2014 t have same buying pwer as they did in This wuld require an additinal $15millin apprpriatin per year; and FAME s gal is t increase prgram funding t the level where, cmbined with a Pell Grant, the grant culd apprximately pay fr tuitin and fees at a Maine Cmmunity Cllege fr students with financial need. After the initial presentatin n the MSGP, the 3 persn panel which was cmprised f a financial aid administratr, student and parent cnvened. All 3 peple were frm (r cnnected t) Hussn University. Their cmments included the fllwing pints: Despite recent imprvements in the ecnmy, many families are nt able t brrw r significantly cntribute t the csts f their child s cllege educatin; Many students have t struggle with either higher debt r lans that are inadequate t meet ttal cllege csts; The MSGP has a significantly psitive effect n a student s ability t help pay fr cllege and is usually but ne element f package f lans and grants that make up a student s financial aid package; T cmbat the high annual cst f a 4 year cllege prgram, many students are resrting t extending their prgram t ver 4 years. This slutin is temprary at best and ften exacerbates the verall financial difficulties faced by many cllege students; and The cmmissin was urged t strngly supprt the MSGP and that the current administrative prcedures used by FAME (like FAFSA) generally wrk well and shuld nt be changed; and The MSGP has definitely made a difference in the student s effrts t pay fr cllege and that every amunt f mney was imprtant t relieving the financial strain n his family. Panel n Imprving Cllege Affrdability & Cmpletin in Maine Reprt (September 18, 2014): The 5 persn panel cmprised f representatives frm FAME, MCCS, MMA, Independent Clleges and UMS reprted their pririties fr increasing affrdability as reflected in the March 2014 reprt submitted t the Legislature: FAME: Currently, FAME has implemented varius cmprehensive utreach activities t prmte cllege access and prvide infrmatin regarding cllege financing. FAME recmmended that maximum amunt f grants frm the Maine State Grant prgram be increased t $1,500 at an apprximate cst f $12.5 millin. FAME als recmmended the establishment f a Wrkfrce Develpment Undergraduate Lan Prgram which was nt included in the final recmmendatins f the Jint Select Cmmittee n Maine s Wrkfrce and Ecnmic Future. Maine Cmmunity Cllege System: The MCCS listed the fllwing pririties: Page 6 f 32

7 Hire 15 additinal Student Success Cunselrs at an annual cst f $1 millin t serve apprximately 16,000 Maine students; Increase funding by an annual cst f $2 millin fr additinal wrk study pprtunities fr the 7 clleges within the MCCS t serve 500 students. The Cmmissin learned that such a prgram wuld nt negatively impact individual grant awards frm the Federal Pell Grant prgram; Create an Alternative Semester Schlarship at an annual cst f $3.6 millin; this prgram wuld prvide additinal grant pprtunities fr thse students seeking t attend cllege during the summer; and At an annual cst f $800,000, expand Student Success Academies t help address sme f the remedial academic issues faced by many MCCS students; this expansin wuld serve an additinal 500 students. The Cmmissin als learned that the MCCS is currently devting cnsiderable existing resurces twards this effrt and des nt plan at the present time t ask fr additinal resurces t expand the prgram. Hussn University and the Maine Independent Clleges Assciatin: As an example f what pririties private institutins f higher educatin have, the Cmmissin reviewed the fllwing circumstances and pririties prvided by Hussn University: All private higher educatin institutins seek t use private funds t defray the csts f higher educatin supprted by tuitin revenues and recgnize the limitatins f public funding t private institutins, while strngly supprting prviding funding fr student directed decisin marking. Examples f private initiatives include Hussn University s appraches as fllws: Hussn University is the mst affrdable private institutin f higher educatin in Maine; Hussn strives t ffer affrdable prgrams that are nt duplicative and are within the university s capability t deliver with excellence; Hussn wrks t develp cllabrative prgrams with ther clleges and has been ding s fr quite a lng perid f time; Hussn appreciates a legislative perspective that fcuses n ding n harm t private clleges, particularly with regards t taxatin plicy and taxable dnatins; Hussn ffers wrk frce flexibility t help keep csts dwn; Hussn practively addresses the remediatin issues faced by sme f its student bdy; Hussn wrks t encurage student persistence (i.e. cmpletin); and Hussn wrks with its students t design affrdable lans. Maine Maritime Academy: MMA listed the fllwing pririties in the reprt: Increasing the Maine State Grant prgram at a cst f $190,000 fr 4 years; Hire a First Year Experience Crdinatr at a 3 year cst f $190,000; Expand the Cllege Student Inventry at a 3 year cst f $4,700; this prgram prvides invaluable data abut student risk factrs; and Hire an Academic Cach at an annual cst f $60,000. University f Maine System: UMS identified the fllwing pririties in the reprt: Preserve the existing General Fund apprpriatin t the UMS and ideally, increase that apprpriatin t keep pace with inflatin. Since 2008, the GF apprpriatin t the UMS Page 7 f 32

8 has declined by $6.2 millin and yet the UMS has been able t freeze tuitin fr 3 cnsecutive years; and Prvide additinal resurces fr the Maine State Grant Prgram. Panel n the Statewide Educatin and Wrkfrce Develpment Strategic Plan (September 18, 2014): This 3 persn panel was cmprised f representatives f MCCS, MMA and UMS. The Cmmissin learned that the reprt was initiated by the Jint Select Cmmittee n Maine s Wrkfrce and Ecnmic Future and required the University f Maine System, the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System, Maine Maritime Academy and the Maine Department f Educatin t cllabrate in the first ever lng term strategic planning prcess fr educatin in the state f Maine. During the panel discussin and review f this reprt, the Cmmissin was urged t fcus n Objective 1 f Gal 2 (page 12 f the reprt): Gal 2: Prvide higher educatin prgrams leading t academic credentials that meet the demands f the current and emerging ecnmy. Objective 1. Imprve persistence and graduatin rates. Other infrmatin presented by the panel included the fllwing: The reprt specifies a number f specific and quantifiable measures regarding persistence and graduatin rates that the different reprt participants will wrk t achieve in a 3 year time span; MMA was lauded fr initiating the Maine Maritime Prep prgram t prepare students by first enrlling in the MCCS and then, after the necessary academic success, transferring t MMA; The strategic plan recgnizes the imprtance f identifying and addressing the academic need f grups f students that have nt been previusly successful in higher educatin; The strategic plan als recgnizes the need fr cmprehensive and cllabrative remedial effrts acrss the state s educatinal system; It is crucial t wrk cllabratively acrss the systems t mre easily transfer credits between the state s higher educatin institutins; Future credit transfer effrts may be facilitated by targeting specific educatinal prgrams fr credit transfer amng the different public higher educatin institutins; It is very imprtant t realize that this strategic plan is based n the current level f financial resurces and funding available t each f the reprt participants; The strategic plan als emphasizes the imprtance f academic/emplyer cllabratins and the gal f trying t keep cllege graduates in the state after they graduate; and The strategic plan includes an imprtant sectin titled Strategic Areas t Cnsider fr Future Investment. Panel n Pay Frward, Pay Back pilt prject; (Octber 8, 2014): This panel was cmpsed f 4 persns and was cnvened t present infrmatin n Oregn s pilt prject ppularly knwn as Pay It Frward (PIF) and t discuss different viewpints n the prs and cns f this relatively new cncept. The infrmatin and cmments presented t the Cmmissin included the fllwing: PIF wrks by: eliminating upfrnt tuitin csts; replacing tuitin with pst-cmpletin incme cntributins; cntributins are placed in a public trust fund that finances future students and eventually generating net revenue; Advantages f PIF include: enables cllege entrance by kncking dwn financial and psychlgical barriers t higher educatin, further enables cllege cmpletin by eliminating debt financing f tuitin, is cmpletely transparent and predictable, enables alignment and cntinuity f studies, and integrates with ther means f financing higher educatin ; The upfrnt csts f financing a pilt PIF prject fr Maine invlving a mixture f 250 UMS students and 500 MCCS students wuld have an annual cst f $11.7 millin which ne member f the external panel felt culd be funded by drawing frm the current UM endwment; Page 8 f 32

9 Based n prjected PIF mdels, fr an average pst graduate mnthly salary f $1,880, the average PIF mnthly cntributin (r payback) wuld be $75 per mnth r 4% f the mnthly incme which cntrasts with the current average mnthly cllege lan payment f $240 r 13% f mnthly incme; A ttal f 23 states (including Maine) are currently cnsidering adpting sme frm f PIF; Criticisms f PIF include the fllwing: PIF is prblematic in that funding the initial significant start-up csts is plitically difficult and n a practical basis, cllecting repayment csts will be extremely difficult; PIF cannt be accurately described as debt free, rather it slightly reduces ttal student debt and des nt address significant cllege csts ther than tuitin; PIF des nt actually make cllege mre affrdable and therefre des nt address sme f the underlying issues regarding affrdability and cmpletin; Many f the underlying assumptins such as prjected incme levels and the effect f lng-term ecnmic cycles that may be used in PIF are nt clear and are subject t reasnable dubt; and It may be that nly individuals cntemplating lwer incme ccupatins wuld select t participate in PIF. Panel n Textbk Csts and Current Cllege Fees; (Octber 8, 2014): This panel discussin was actually divided int tw sessins: the first 5 member panel discussed the csts f cllege textbks. Cmments and infrmatin regarding textbks included the fllwing: Since 1981, the average csts f cllege textbks has far exceeded the rate f inflatin- 600% increase fr textbks vs. 150% increase in inflatin; The average student can expect t pay $1,200 n textbks and curse materials in ; Frm the UMS perspective, the best way t deal with textbk csts is t cntinually wrk with faculty and staff t get advance lists f textbks that will be used which allws fr the advance purchase f used bks and the availability f rentals and electrnic versins; Frm the MCCS perspective, the UMS perspective is ne that is shared within the MCCS and there is a high degree f cst cnsciusness regarding textbks and the nging need t keep these csts dwn as well as the need in sme prfessins t retain useful textbks as career reference surces; and In terms f alternatives t the traditinal hard cpy versins f textbks, the Cmmissin received a great deal f infrmatin abut the burgening use f Open Educatinal Resurces (OERs). OERs include a wide variety f teaching, learning, and research resurces which are available under an pen license that permits their free use. The secnd 4 member panel discussed nn-tuitin fees currently charged in Maine s clleges and universities and had the fllwing cmments: Fees fr MMA are cmparatively high but crrespnd t the highly technical nature f the curses and degrees ffered at that institutin; The UMS publishes an Annual Reprt n Student Charges which lists the specific fees charged n each campus; Mst campuses within the UMS make use f a Unified Fee which cnslidates fixed csts f services ffered t students n each campus such as fitness centers. In additin, mst UMS campuses als charge a Student Activities Fee; Mst fees within the UMS have been frzen in recent years t crrespnd with recent tuitin freezes; and Fees charged by private universities and clleges within Maine vary widely frm a lw f $280 t a high f $1,990 with an average annual General Fee f $869. Page 9 f 32

10 Panel n the Game Changers Reprt; (Octber 8, 2014): This 5 member panel discussed and prvided infrmatin regarding the 2013 Game Changers Reprt issued by Cmplete Cllege America. In brief, this reprt addresses the issues f cllege affrdability and cmpletin by advcating fr the adptin f 5 distinct strategies: 1. Perfrmance Funding: Base public funding prvided fr higher educatin n a multitude f perfrmance measures, nt just enrllment. 2. Crequisite Remediatin : Accept academically unprepared students int cllege-level gateway curses with mandatry, remedial instructinal supprt that is tied t their particular majr. 3. Full-Time is 15: Incentivize students t attend cllege n a full-time basis which is clearly understd t mean 15 credits per semester. 4. Structured Schedules: Make use f structured scheduling f classes t prvide predictability and meet the needs f wrking students t balance jbs and schl. 5. Guided Pathways t Success: With the use f technlgy, place all students int highly structured degree plans which eventually narrw dwn t specific degrees, withut an initial emphasis n individual curses. During the curse f the panel discussin, the Cmmissin learned the fllwing: The MCCS has nt frmally adpted the Game Changers mdel. With regards t the specific strategies, the MCCS is currently implementing the fllwing appraches: Perfrmance Funding: Due in large part t funding limitatins, the MCCS has relied n funding its different campuses based n previus histry and the current needs f each campus; Crequisite Remediatin: MCCS makes extensive use f remedial curses fr the significant number f academically unprepared students that enrll in the system; Full Time is 15: MCCS has nt adpted this strategy thugh sme f the campuses have examined using this apprach; Structured Schedules: Because f the technical nature f the degrees ffered at MCCS, structured schedules are an integral part f mst f the degree prgrams; Guided Pathways t Success: MCCS has implemented several strategies fr student success which have a fcus n adjusting t campus life and prmting curses f study which will help t ensure success in the student s chsen field. While nt having frmally adpted the Game Changer strategies, MMA ffered the fllwing reactins t the Game Changer mdel: Pay fr Perfrmance: While supprtive f the cncept, MMA has reservatins regarding its use, feeling that the use f any metrics must reflect the unique characteristics and missin f a higher educatin institutin like MMA; Crequisite Remediatin: MMA supprts the use f innvative appraches t remedial curses but maintains that an MMA student must achieve a certain GPA r pass certain prerequisite curses t prgress. If a student fails, they get ut f sequence which delays their ability t cmplete and graduate and can be very expensive; Page 10 f 32

11 15 is Full-time: MMA students have a strict schedule t fllw and it is in their best interest t be full-time. In additin, tuitin remains the same whether a student is taking 14 r 18 credits and thus it is t their advantage t take a full curse lad; Structured Schedules: T their benefit, MMA students are currently required t have structured schedules; and Guided Pathways: MMA supprts this apprach but ntes that MMA students currently have a structured schedule and curriculum and thus little rm fr errr. As a whle the UMS is supprtive f the Game Changer strategies and ffered the fllwing reactins t the Game Changer mdel: Pay fr Perfrmance: Fr the past three years, UMS has made use f a versin f this strategy called Outcmes Based Funding which aligns funding with perfrmance utcmes. This strategy is used in cnjunctin with an histric funding apprach fr each campus with a plan t phase in a higher percentage f Outcmes Based Funding in future years; Crequisite Remediatin: Within the UMS, just ver 11% f the student ppulatin requires develpmental cursewrk in either Math r English r bth. In particular, UM des nt admit students int the regular degree prgrams that require develpmental cursewrk but have specially fcused prgrams that they refer students int in rder t be fully admitted. Current placement and remediatin plicies are being examined at the varius UMS campuses; 15 is Full-time: Full time students at UMS are advised t take 15 credits but fr many students, there may be issues arund either being able t affrd 15 credits r being able academically able t handle 15 credits. Federal financial aid standards define full time as 12 credits r mre. UMS als has a high prprtin f part time students fr whm 15 credits is nt an ptin; Structured Schedules: The slutins cntained within The Game Changers will nt fit every campus at UMS. Because UMS students can take curses at ther campuses, they are nt limited t the curses ffered nly n their campus and s can utilize the entire menu f curses acrss the institutins. Because f ur transfer wrk and established equivalencies acrss all f ur curses, this is a straightfrward way fr students t access the curses they need; and Guided Pathways: Advisrs wrk with UMS students in the cmpletin f their degree plans and emphasize 15 credits; the UMS degree prgress system allws students t track their prgress every semester and the prgress reprts are used fr advising. Thrughut UMS, campuses utilize an intrusive, intentinal advising mdel that, while all students are advised, that makes sure thse wh are the mst at risk are targeted fr additinal supprt. Any student wishing t change a majr can nly d s upn cnsultatin with their advisr. Survey f Students, Parents and Graduates T facilitate and add t the Cmmissin s understanding f hw the public regards the tpic f cllege affrdability and cmpletin, the Cmmissin develped an n-line survey instrument with the assistance f Mikel Leightn, Administrative Specialist, UMS Student Affairs & Organizatinal Effectiveness. The survey f students, parents and graduates was intended as an anecdtal attempt t gather pinins and feedback n the tpic Page 11 f 32

12 f cllege affrdability and cmpletin. The nline survey was titled State f Maine: Student Csts and Lans and culd be accessed at the fllwing link: https://www.surveymnkey.cm/s/mainestudentcstsandlans In reviewing the survey results during the Cmmissin s last meeting n Nvember 12, 2014, the Cmmissin learned that: T date, there had been 302 respnses t the survey; The survey prvided pprtunities fr the fllwing individuals t self-identify whether they are: Parents; Currently enrlled students/student with sme cllege experience but n degree; r; Graduates. The results shwed that the respndents had attended a wide variety f in-state and ut-f-state public and private clleges and universities; Sme 67% f parents had talked with a financial aid fficer with a wide range f anecdtal respnses regarding their actual experiences; With regard t any financial sacrifices ( unmet need ) that were made by parents t help their child attend cllege, many respndents stated that they had t use retirement savings, r were unable t save fr retirement, r had t freg rutine expenses such as vehicle replacement, entertainment, and dining ut; As t thse students that had talked with a financial aid fficer, the anecdtal respnses included a smaller range f respnses ranging frm being able t get mre financial aid t a frustratin in getting useful r helpful infrmatin; Fr thse students wh respnded t the questin abut hw much they had t brrw t attend cllege, the answers ranged frm a high f $500,000 t a lw f nthing with many answers n either side f appraching $100,000; With regards t miscellaneus cmments that were made at the end f the survey, a wide variety f respnses were received including: Participating in AmeriCrp fr a year helped pstpne and manage that persn s student debt; Several parents perceived that they were penalized fr having savings, thereby receiving reduced financial aid fr their child; A lack f family and persnal financial resurces, withut significant financial aid and an unwillingness t enter int significant debt resulted in a decisin t drp ut f cllege; and Paradxically, being able t secure a number f schlarships resulted in reduced financial aid thereby frcing the student drp ut f cllege. Affrdability Mdel T further facilitate their understanding f cllege affrdability and t quantify the current ability f Maine s cllege students and their families t pay fr a cllege educatin in Maine, the Cmmissin made use f an Affrdability Mdel develped fr the Washingtn Student Achievement Cuncil by HCM Strategists in a reprt dated August 21, The mdel was designed t answer the questins: 1) Is there a viable pathway t a bachelr s degree including significant part-time wrk and student lans fr all state residents?; 2) Hw can state grant plicies (amunt, eligibility, etc.) increase affrdability fr students?; and 3) Shuld any plicies be mdified t supprt student success? In brief, the Cmmissin adapted this Affrdability Mdel t determine the ttal unmet financial need f attending a public institutin f higher educatin fr students and their families based n the fllwing factrs: State supprt thrugh apprpriatins; Student lans ($5,000 per year); Federal supprt (Pell grants and lan prgrams); Page 12 f 32

13 Maine State Grant Prgram ($1,000 annual grant); Expected Family cntributin; and Part-time wrk (15 hurs per week at minimum wage) With the help f Cmmissin member Lisa Plimptn, Directr f Research fr the Mitchell Institute, the Cmmissin was able t determine, as prtrayed in the fllwing graph, the current unmet financial need (Affrdability Gap) f students attending 4 year degree prgram within the UMS: $160,000 Maine Cllege Affrdability Gap Analysis: Dependent Students, Fur Years at University f Maine System $140,000 $120,000 $100,000 $80,000 $60,000 $40,000 $20,000 $- Up t $30,000 $60,000 $80,000 $120,000 Family Incme Affrdability Gap Part-Time Wrk (15 Hurs/Week) Student Lans ($5,000/year) Expected Family Cntributin Maine State Grant State Supprt thrugh Apprpriatins Federal Supprt Fur-Year Cst (UMS average) = $102,400 In brief, thrugh this analysis, the Cmmissin determined the fllwing: Fr a family with an annual incme f up t $30,000, there is a current Affrdability Gap f slightly mre than $17,000 ver a 4 year perid after all ther available financial surces have been used; Fr a family with an annual incme f up t $60,000, there is a current Affrdability Gap f almst $15,000 ver a 4 year perid after all ther available financial surces have been used; Fr families with incmes ver $60,000, there is nt currently an Affrdability Gap fr the csts f attaining a 4 year degree in the UMS. The Cmmissin used this infrmatin t quantify that there is a significant degree f unmet financial need fr the 4 year cst f attending a university within the UMS fr families with annual incmes f less than $60,000. The Cmmissin used this cnclusive financial analysis as the basis fr adpting several f its fllwing recmmendatins. Page 13 f 32

14 Page 14 f 32

15 Recmmendatins and Findings 1. The Cmmissin endrses the varius gals and bjectives pertaining t attainment and cmpletin stated in the Statewide Educatin and Wrkfrce Develpment Strategic Plan and requires MCCS, UMS and MMA t reprt back t the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs by July 1, 2015 regarding prgress in implementing these gals and bjectives. During its review f the Statewide Educatin and Wrkfrce Develpment Strategic Plan, which was supplemented by a panel presentatin and discussin n September 18, 2014, the Cmmissin fund that the gals and bjectives pertaining t cllege affrdability and cmpletin were laudable and deserved apprpriate fllw up frm the three institutins f public higher educatin in Maine t determine their prgress in attaining these gals. Thus, the Cmmissin has recmmended that the MCCS, UMS and MMA be required by law t reprt back t the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs by July 1, 2015 n the prgress made twards in achieving thse gals. 2. Require the Bards f Trustees fr the UMS, MCCS and MMA t reprt back t the Jint Standing Cmmittee f Educatin and Cultural Affairs by July 1, 2015 regarding their reactins t the Game Changers strategies, what actin(s) was agreed upn, what additinal resurces wuld be required t implement these strategies, what plan f actin has been adpted and identify hw the State f Maine culd assist in implementatin f these strategies. Similar t the previus recmmendatin, the Cmmissin s review f the Game Changers reprt issued by Cmplete Cllege America was supplemented by a presentatin and panel discussin n Octber 8, During that presentatin, the Cmmissin ascertained that while aspects f the varius Game Changer strategies were being emplyed by the MCCS, UMS and MMA, nne f these institutins had frmally cnsidered the pssible adptin f these strategies. Understanding that circumstances within each institutin may r may nt lend themselves t frmal and verbatim adptin f these strategies, the Cmmissin did feel that it wuld be wrthwhile fr these public clleges and universities t specifically cnsider adptin f these strategies and thus is recmmending that the MCCS, UMS and MMA be required t review these strategies and reprt back t the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs by July 1, 2015 n their cnclusins. 3. All institutins f higher educatin in Maine shuld publish average class fees by majr curse f study and that the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs cnsider including this requirement in statutry law and wrk with the Maine Department f Educatin t determine what requirements currently exist regarding the publicatin f current class fees. The Cmmissin s review f the current nn-tuitin fees charged by clleges and universities in Maine shwed that these fees cnstitute a significant additinal financial burden t students. Just as significantly, the Cmmissin fund that mst f these fees were nt adequately publicized and that many students are unaware ahead f time exactly what fees they wuld have t pay ver the curse f their academic career. Accrdingly, the Cmmissin recmmends that all Maine clleges and universities shuld publish average class fees by curse f study and that the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs further cnsider including this requirement in statutry law after cnsulting with the Maine Department f Educatin as t what current federal and state requirements might already exist regarding this brad tpic. Page 15 f 32

16 4. The Cmmissin encurages higher educatin institutins in the State f Maine t partner, where pssible, with ther clleges and institutins in ther states t develp pen educatin resurces and t secure, when pssible, private funding fr the further develpment f pen educatin resurces. In additin, the Cmmissin recmmends that clleges and universities in Maine wrk t encurage additinal ptins in securing classrm materials such as pen educatin resurces. The Cmmissin s review f the cst f required cllege textbks cnfirmed that textbk acquisitin is anther significant burden t students with an average annual cst f mre than $1,000. While nting that many clleges and universities in Maine are sensitive t this cst and make reasnable effrts t ffer used and rented textbks as well as emplying effrts t reduce textbk csts whenever pssible, the Cmmissin cncluded that mre effrt needs t be made in prviding students with a lw cst emerging alternative in the frm f pen educatin resurces which allw the pen and free electrnic disseminatin f an increasing number f essential textbks. While recgnizing the limitatins that public funding has with regards t this tpic, the Cmmissin recmmends that Maine clleges and universities wrk t secure private funding and lk fr additinal pprtunities t increase the use f pen educatin resurces. 5. The Cmmissin finds and wishes t acknwledge the imprtance f the K-12 educatinal prcess in rder t ensure adequate academic readiness f thse Maine students entering cllege fr the first time. As the Cmmissin prceeded with its review f the tpics f cllege affrdability and cmpletin, it frequently was reminded f the imprtance f the K-12 educatinal prcess in adequately preparing Maine students fr cllege. Any attempts t rectify the many issues surrunding higher educatin, including affrdability and cmpletin, are predicated upn a sund and well-designed elementary and secndary educatinal system which creates an educatinal envirnment that stimulates learning and encurages educatinal advancement. The Cmmissin finds that a prperly cnceived educatinal system in its ttality is essential fr success in a pst-secndary cllege envirnment and therefre will help students aspire t being in cllege, deal with affrdability issues as they ccur and strive t cmplete cllege as an imprtant step t a successful career. 6. Recmmend that the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs cnsider setting a statutry cllege attainment gal that is nt lwer than the 50% by 2025 prmted by Educate Maine with additinal cnsideratin t attainment gals established by the Lumina Fundatin and the aspiratinal gal fr all levels f educatin established by the State f Oregn. In additin, recmmend that in light f whatever statutry attainment gal that has been established, that the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs prpse legislatin which requires that the Legislature bi-annually mnitr educatin attainment metrics frm Educate Maine and/r the Maine Develpment Fundatin s Measures f Grwth reprt. During its review f the issues f cllege affrdability and cllege cmpletin, the Cmmissin cnsidered the issue f what a realistic attainment (prprtin f the state s adult ppulatin hlding an assciate r higher degree) gal might be fr the state f Maine. After a great deal f cnsideratin and recgnitin f the additinal time that wuld be needed t prperly ascertain and decide upn an apprpriate gal, the Cmmissin decided t recmmend that the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs cnsider establishing an statutry cllege attainment gal that is nt lwer than the 50% by 2025 prmted by Educate Maine with additinal cnsideratin t attainment gals established by the Lumina Fundatin and the aspiratinal gal fr all levels f educatin established by the State f Oregn. In additin, the Cmmissin vted t recmmend that in light f whatever statutry attainment gal that has been established, that the Jint Standing Cmmittee n Educatin and Cultural Affairs prpse legislatin which requires that the Legislature bi-annually mnitr educatin attainment metrics frm Educate Maine and/r the Maine Develpment Fundatin s Measures f Grwth reprt. Page 16 f 32

17 7. Recmmend that the Maine State Grant Prgram be recnstituted t prvide a tiered grant prgram starting at annual awards f $2,500 fr families with $0 EFC with annual increases f $250 fr each year that the student is enrlled. Further recmmend that annual awards f $1,500 be made t families with EFCs that are greater than $0 with annual increases f $250 fr each year that the student is enrlled. In additin, recmmend that these tiered prgrams be reviewed by the Legislature in light f frth cming studies frm the New England Bard f Higher Educatin. Further recmmend that the grant award levels be reviewed by the Legislature frm an affrdability and unmet need perspective every tw years. The Cmmissin spent a great deal f time cnsidering the annual grants available t many cllege students frm the Maine State Grant Prgram (MSGP). In cnsidering the issue f cllege affrdability, the Cmmissin reviewed the fllwing facts abut the MSGP: Annual MSGP grants have gradually declined due t funding limitatins frm a high f $1,500 in FY 07 and FY 08, t $1,250 in FY 09 thrugh FY 12, t $1,000 in FY 13; In that same time perid, average tuitin and fees fr a 4 year cllege prgram have increased steadily frm apprximately $6,000 in FY 07 t clse t $9,000 in FY 13; Average tuitin and fees fr a 2 year cllege prgram have slightly increased frm $3,000 in FY 07 t apprximately $3,250 in FY 13; and If the annual grants had been increased t keep pace with inflatin since 1992, the annual grants frm the MSGP wuld be $2,500. Based n these facts, the Cmmissin had n difficulty in cncluding that the MSGP grants have nt kept pace with inflatin- particularly in relatin t tuitin charged fr a 4 year cllege prgram. During its review f this tpic, the Cmmissin acknwledged that funding prvided fr the MSGP by the Legislature since 1992 has been inadequate and that the inadequate funding has significantly cntributed t the Affrdability Gap identified earlier in this reprt. T remedy this significant lack f funding fr the MSGP and hw t target thse families with cllege students mst in need f financial resurces t be able t attend cllege, the Cmmissin cnsidered a large number f alternatives that might be recmmended t help mitigate the current Affrdability Gap. After cnsiderable discussin f the different alternatives, the Cmmissin decided t recmmend the fllwing: Recnstitute the MSGP t prvide a tiered grant prgram starting at annual awards f $2,500 fr families with $0 Estimated Family Cntributin (EFC) with annual increases f $250 fr each year that the student is enrlled; Prvide annual awards f $1,500 fr families with EFCs that are greater than $0 with annual increases f $250 fr each year that the student is enrlled; These tiered prgrams shuld be reviewed by the Legislature in light f frth cming studies frm the New England Bard f Higher Educatin; and These grant award levels shuld be reviewed by the Legislature frm an affrdability and unmet need perspective every tw years. The annual cst f funding this series f recmmendatins will require additinal General Fund apprpriatins f $27 millin t the Finance Authrity f Maine which is respnsible fr administering the MSGP. While the Cmmissin is quite aware f the financial magnitude f this recmmendatin, it believes that the crrespnding issues f cllege affrdability mre than justify the additinal funding and in fact, is lng verdue. Page 17 f 32

18 The Cmmissin arrived at this recmmendatin thrugh further use f the Affrdability Mdel discussed earlier in this reprt. If the Cmmissin s recmmendatins fr the MSGP are fully funded, the Affrdability Gap fr many Maine students will be significantly reduced as shwn in the fllwing graph: Cllege Affrdability Cmmissin Recmmendatin: Maine State Grant Increase t $2,500 fr 0 EFC and $1,500 fr up t $5,000 EFC Plus $250 fr Each Successive Year in Cllege $160,000 Affrdability Gap $140,000 $120,000 $100,000 Expected Family Cntributin Student Lans ($5,000/year) $80,000 $60,000 $40,000 $20,000 Part-Time Wrk (15 Hurs/Week) Maine State Grant: $2,500 fr 0 EFC and $1,500 fr up t $10,000 EFC, plus $250 fr successive years f cllege State Supprt thrugh Apprpriatins $- Up t $30,000 $60,000 $80,000 $120,000 Family Incme In summary, the Cmmissin s funding recmmendatins fr the MSGP will: Federal Supprt Reduce the Affrdability Gap fr a 4 year degree prgram at the UMS frm slightly mre than $17,000 t less than $10,000 fr a family with an annual incme f up t $30,000; and Reduce the Affrdability Gap fr a 4 year degree prgram at the UMS frm almst $15,000 t slightly mre than $10,000 fr a family with an annual incme f up t $60,000. In making this recmmendatin, the Cmmissin acknwledges that a significant Affrdability Gap will still exist fr many Maine families but believes that this funding increase fr the MSGP will be a significant and essential step twards making cllege mre affrdable fr many Maine students. 8. Recmmend that the FY budget requests fr the University f Maine System, the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System and the Maine Maritime Academy shuld be fully funded as a means f achieving greater affrdability fr Maine students. During its review, the Cmmissin received a great deal f testimny which maintained that much f the cllege affrdability issue has been exacerbated by inadequate funding fr Maine s institutins f public higher educatin. It was repeatedly pinted ut that as state funding fr the public clleges and universities des nt keep pace with the nrmal rate f inflatin, these institutins are frced t raise tuitin and ther fees t maintain the current level f prgraming and services. The net effect f this Page 18 f 32

19 revenue shift is t significantly increase csts t student s thereby increasing the afrementined Affrdability Gap. While the Cmmissin recgnizes that funding levels fr public educatin have been adversely affected by declining state revenues and the recessinary ecnmic climate f recent years, the Cmmissin believes that cntinued levels f apprpriate investment in public higher educatin will help alleviate the Affrdability Gap and ultimately result in a highly educated wrkfrce and a mre prsperus ecnmy. Therefre, the Cmmissin recmmends that the FY budget requests fr the University f Maine System, the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System and the Maine Maritime Academy shuld be fully funded as a means f achieving greater affrdability fr Maine students. The Cmmissin als believes that this funding shuld be viewed as an imprtant investment in the quality f the Maine wrk frce and will ultimately return greater state revenues thrugh a strnger wage based wrk frce. 9. Recmmend that the Legislature apprpriate an additinal $1,800,000 t the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System fr the annual csts f hiring 27 Cllege Navigatr psitins. 10. Recmmend that the Legislature apprpriate an additinal $2,000,000 t the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System fr the annual csts f expanding student wrk study pprtunities. When the Cmmissin reviewed the Imprving Cllege Affrdability & Cmpletin in Maine Reprt, it carefully cnsidered the prpsals made by the MCCS, UMS and MMA that were intended t help address the dual issues f cllege affrdability and cmpletin. Cmmissin members were asked t priritize thse prpsals that they felt culd mst effectively deal with these dual issues. Cmmissin members made nte f the prven effectiveness f having n-campus cunselrs that culd effectively help students deal with campus life and successfully chart their academic prgrams- all f which will significantly help students stay in cllege and cmplete their degree prgrams. Cmmissin members were als persuaded that prviding mre wrk study pprtunities wuld als address bth affrdability and cllege cmpletin issues and they believed that a large number f students wuld be psitively affected by prpsals which wuld prvide funding fr mre Cllege Navigatr psitins and wrk study pprtunities in the MCCS. Therefre, the Cmmissin vted t recmmend that the Legislature apprpriate an additinal $1,800,000 t the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System fr the annual csts f hiring 27 Cllege Navigatr psitins and that the Legislature apprpriate an additinal $2,000,000 t the Maine Cmmunity Cllege System fr the annual csts f expanding student wrk study pprtunities. (With regards t the frmer recmmendatin, the Cmmissin ntes that the riginal request frm MCCS was fr thirty additinal Cllege Navigatr psitins. During the curse f the Cmmissin s review, it was annunced that KeyBank has generusly made a 3 year grant which will fund 3 additinal Cllege Navigatr psitins at SMCC. Accrdingly, the Cmmissin adjusted its recmmendatin t fund a ttal f 27 Cllege Navigatr psitins but the clear intent f its recmmendatin is that the Legislature will eventually fully fund the cst f the 3 psitins after the KeyBank grant expires.) Cnclusin The Cmmissin entered int its task t study cllege affrdability and cmpletin with an acute awareness that these tpics are immense in their scpe and will nt easily be slved, particularly by a grup f dedicated citizens such as the Cmmissin members wh met six times ver a relatively shrt amunt f time with n recurse ther than t make the mst meaningful and relevant recmmendatins pssible. The Cmmissin itself des nt have the means t slve these imprtant issues but has wrked hard t cnstruct a series f recmmendatins that, if implemented, will wrk in cncert t significantly imprve the issue f cllege affrdability and encurage students in Maine t cmplete cllege. Page 19 f 32

20 Like a great many public plicy issues, cllege affrdability and cmpletin inevitably invlve questins surrunding matters f funding. In particular, the issue f cllege affrdability is abut whether many students in Maine have adequate financial resurces t realistically cver the increasingly high cst f cllege. The Cmmissin placed a pririty n trying t quantify whether such an affrdability prblem actually exists. Thrugh its use f the Affrdability Mdel discussed in this reprt, the Cmmissin established that many Maine Cllege students experience a significant Affrdability Gap in their ability t pay fr the cmplete csts f cllege- even when a myriad f financial surces are tapped such as family resurces, part-time wrk, federal and state grant prgrams, and educatinal lans. The causes f this Affrdability Gap are many and unfrtunately, many f the slutins are inevitably expensive. The Cmmissin was cgnizant f the significant csts assciated with its recmmendatinsparticularly in an era f scarce and smetimes diminishing public resurces. Yet there can be little dubt that a decisin nt t fund these recmmendatins will simply result in a situatin that at best remains static with n ther slutin in sight and at wrst, the Affrdability Gap fr Maine cllege students will cntinue t widen and fewer students will be able affrd t attend cllege and even fewer will be able t cmplete cllege. The Cmmissin sincerely urges the 127 th sessin f the Maine State Legislature t carefully cnsider these recmmendatins and t make every effrt t fully fund and implement them. In clsing, the Cmmissin wishes t emphasize that even if its recmmendatins are cmpletely adpted, an Affrdability Gap, albeit smaller, will still exist and that students will cntinue t face challenges in accessing and attaining higher educatin. In additin, the cmplete adptin f the Cmmissin s recmmendatins will require an nging willingness t revisit the issues f cllege affrdability and cmpletin t ensure that financial resurces invested in higher educatin are keeping pace with csts and the verall effects f inflatin. The Cmmissin s recmmendatins are a necessary first step in a determined effrt t make cllege mre affrdable fr the peple f Maine and t encurage cllege cmpletin. Page 20 f 32

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