If a top-notch student from Maine doesn’t apply to—or doesn’t attend—Colby because of anxiety about student loan debt, then Colby and the student both miss an opportunity. That’s the premise behind a new initiative that will convert student loans to grants in financial aid packages for Maine students, part of a larger goal of increasing access to the College.
Parents in the low- to middle-income range in Maine might discourage their children from taking out $5,000 a year—$20,000 over four years—to attend Colby, said Chair of the Board of Trustees Joseph Boulos ’68, who, with his wife, Sheri, is supporting the initiative with the lead gift. “They automatically assume that they could never pay that back.”
Now they won’t have to.
As Colby assesses each accepted student’s financial need, it calculates a financial aid package to meet that need. These packages may include grants, outside scholarships, work-study, and student loans. Beginning next fall, the student-loan portion for current and incoming Maine students will be turned into grants.
So why the focus on Maine? There are a few reasons, says Boulos, a Maine native. Students from Maine excel at Colby. “I’ve always believed that the greatest attribute of most Mainers is that they know how to work, and I think it has proven out over the years.” Also, over the years Colby has seen the percentage of Maine students drop below the target 10 to 12 percent, and this policy is aimed at keeping that from becoming a trend.
But that’s not all.
Maine students are an important part of the culture at the College, said Boulos. Historically Colby has always had a commitment to the people of this state, and this needs to continue. “I think we owe it to the state of Maine, as a college that was founded almost 200 years ago, to give these kids an opportunity.”