Edward Little High School juniors Madeline Duff, left, and Sophie Bilodeau are taking online college classes this summer through Husson University. In their senior year of high school, they will enroll at Central Maine Community College full time to earn college credit before they graduate from EL. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

More Maine students are earning college credits before they graduate from high school, and state taxpayers are paying most of that tuition.

Across the seven Maine Community College System campuses, more than 3,000 high school students were enrolled in at least one college course last year, said Mercedes Pour, director of College Access for the system.

Participation has increased by 37 percent in the past three years, Pour said. In most cases, high school students can take college courses at little or no cost, she said.

In 2012 state spending for early college tuition was $400,000; by 2017 that spending jumped to $975,000, according to the Maine Department of Education.

Statewide, 5,617 students participated in early college courses in 2017-18, according to the Department of Education.


The advantage of students earning college credit in high school is that more are likely to go to college and graduate, state and national data show, Pour said.

At Edward Little, 60 of about 1,000 students earned college credit last year, said Aspirations Coordinator Jim Horn said.

At Lewiston High School, 183 students of about 1,400 students took early college courses last year, according to Aspirations Coordinator Doug Dumont.

Dumont said he would like to see more students take advantage of getting college credit for free. Some lack the time. 

“A lot of our students are extremely involved in sports, clubs, jobs or family obligations,” Dumont said. Lewiston doesn’t have as many dual-credit offerings as Edward Little, Dumont said.

Lewiston students who take college courses “knock off their general education requirements,” saving them time and money, he said, but students do have to realize the college classes are more work and require more drive.


For some, early college becomes motivation for them to go to college, Dumont said. “They realize, ‘Wow! I can do this!'”






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