Maine borrowers have an average federal and private student loan balance of $31,801, 13% lower than the nationwide average of $36,689.
Enrolled high school students who want to get ahead on their college education with less student loan debt can consider the Maine Aspirations Program. Qualified students can receive a tuition waiver for up to 12 course credits annually at a Maine Community College System school, University of Maine System campus or Marine Maritime Academy.
Although this is a lucrative opportunity, not all eligible students will qualify. Students must sometimes turn to other financial aid options in these situations, including federal and private Maine student loans.
Maine student loans: Borrowers owe average of $31,801 in federal, private debt
The average student debt balance among Maine borrowers of federal and private student loans is $31,801.
|Maine student debt overview|
|Total outstanding debt||$6.6 billion|
|Number of borrowers||0.2 million|
|Average total monthly payment||$263|
|Note: Averages include federal and private student loan debt.|
In addition to having a lower student debt than the U.S. average, Maine has the second-lowest average balance in the New England region — behind Rhode Island at $30,225.
Overall, Maine ranks 34th in the U.S. in its borrowers’ average federal and private student loan debt. Below is a full state ranking.
3 things to know about going to college in Maine
Students who are considering attending college in the Pine Tree State should know a few key details.
- Maine Aspirations Program: To reduce college costs, the Maine Aspirations Program offers eligible high school students up to 12 college credits annually. Each credit will be billed at a reduced Early College tuition rate. For example, additional courses taken at a Maine Community College System campus will be offered at a 50% tuition discount with fees waived.
- Additional state grant and scholarship programs: Aside from the Aspirations Program, the state offers its residents other grant and scholarship opportunities. For example, the Maine State Grant Program awarded need-based recipients up to $1,500 in college aid for the 2020-21 academic year.
- Various public colleges and universities: The state is home to multiple public community colleges, state universities and private institutions. Both the Maine Community College System and the University of Maine System have campuses across the state. Students can also find a private education through options including Bowdoin College and Colby College.
Loan repayment programs for Maine residents
There are various student loan forgiveness programs available to Maine residents. Pursuing loan repayment assistance options can help borrowers get out of debt faster.
The Alfond Leaders program offers student loan repayment assistance to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers who live in Maine and work for a state-based employer. The program reimburses up to half of borrowers’ outstanding student loans, with a maximum award of $60,000 across six years.
Educators for Maine Loan forgiveness
Borrowers who have an Educators for Maine Loan can receive loan forgiveness if they meet additional requirements. For each year of eligible service as a teacher — including speech pathology — or child care provider in Maine, educators can receive a year of loan forgiveness.
Maine educators who meet program requirements and commit to a service contract in an underserved subject or area in the state may receive two years of loan forgiveness for every year of service.
Maine Dental Education Loan Repayment Program
Dentists who agree to practice in underserved areas of Maine can receive assistance through the Maine Dental Education Loan Repayment Program. Fully licensed dentists must agree to a minimum two-year service contract that can be renewed for another two years. Recipients can receive up to $25,000 a year, with a maximum combined award of $100,000.
Maine Health Professions Loan Forgiveness
Under the Maine Health Professions Loan Forgiveness program, participants can receive loan forgiveness of 25% to 50% or $7,500 of forgiveness per year of service — whichever is higher. To qualify, borrowers must have a loan originated before Jan. 1, 2011.
Award amounts depend on various factors, including the provider’s type of practice and where they serve in Maine.
Maine Veterinary Medicine Loan Program
Licensed veterinarians with a Maine Veterinary Medicine Loan could be eligible for up to 25% in loan forgiveness. Participants must have started their education on Jan. 1, 2011, or later and practice full-time livestock veterinary medicine in an underserved area in the state. Specific awards depend on the number of weekly hours served.
Maine federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe more than national average — plus a look at payment status
How to refinance Maine student loans
Of the 200,000 student loan borrowers in Maine, 6% have $100,000 or more in federal student loan debt. A student loan refinance can be a useful strategy to get out of debt, especially for borrowers with six-figure federal debt — and that figure would be higher for those who also have private student loans.
A student loan refinance can help lower borrowers’ monthly payments or reduce owed student loan interest. One option for Maine borrowers is the Finance Authority of Maine, which offers student loan refinancing options through its local partner lenders.
A refinancing lender pays the original student debt in a student loan refinance and creates a new loan. This process can be done with federal and private student loans. The new loan will have a new interest rate — ideally, lower — and different repayment terms.
Since student loan lenders provide different refinancing offers, borrowers should calculate prospective student loan payments and the cost to refinance to ensure it’s affordable. One caveat to refinancing federal loans is that borrowers will lose government benefits, including:
- Federal loan forgiveness
- Flexible income-driven repayment plans
- Deferment and forbearance protection
Some private refinance lenders offer deferment and forbearance options for financial hardship, but eligibility and timelines vary between lenders, and it’s not guaranteed.
- U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
- Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
- Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020
Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports.
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