Thank you for profiling 10 local high school graduates and their plans for the future (“Highlighting 2024 central Maine area graduates,” June 2). We are honored that the University of Maine System (UMS) will enroll more of these outstanding students than any other institution.

As this paper noted, many selected our system for its affordability. Eben Michaud (Winthrop High School), Ben Nathan (Hall-Dale High School) and Alice Willette (Waterville High School) will attend the University of Maine, which costs 40% less than the New England flagship average. Meanwhile, qualifying federal Pell-eligible students pay zero out-of-pocket for their tuition and fees at four of our other universities, including the University of Maine at Augusta, where Amany Albahadly (Cony High School) will become the first in her family to pursue a college degree this fall.

UMS is more than affordable. Our public universities provide high-quality education that leads to great-paying Maine careers, including by connecting students to hands-on research learning in world-class campus labs and paid internships with Maine companies. Our alumni earn more than double Maine’s average median per capita income.

After being stuck at home during the pandemic, it can be tempting to go away for college — even if it’s more expensive. About one-third of Maine students who continue their studies directly after high school do so out-of-state.

But with research showing that most people stay in the same state where they pursued their post-secondary degree and Maine employers eager to hire more educated workers, we’re glad so many recent graduates realize opportunity is here.

Dannel Malloy

chancellor, University of Maine System

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