Thanks for your Apr. 27 article highlighting the importance of Maine’s new free community college opportunity. Our community colleges and universities are fundamental building blocks in preparing Maine’s workforce for both today’s jobs, and the jobs of the future.

Post-secondary training and education is a key strategy for how to address our pressing workforce shortage, and creates pathways into careers that support not only workers and their families, but also our communities, employers and the economy.

Many studies show the long-term economic gains to individuals who achieve various post-secondary credentials. But, in the past, paying for college was often a roadblock for many.

Removing the financial barrier for community college tuition and fees, valued at about $7,600 over a two-year period, will open up this post-secondary option to approximately 8,000 students from the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. It was one of the most worthwhile decisions made recently by members of the 130th Legislature and Gov. Janet Mills.

Giving thousands of young adults affordable access to credentials and degrees from Maine’s seven community colleges will also move us closer to Maine’s education attainment goal that 60% of Mainers will hold education and workforce credentials by 2025.

Thanks to the free community college initiative and the work done by many employers and other partners, we are now within striking distance of achieving our goal. Maine’s recent investments for post-secondary students in the forms of free community college and holding tuition constant at our public universities will help us achieve it.

Jason Judd, Lewiston, executive director of Educate Maine

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