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Cost of college: Vignettes

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    University of Maine student Olivia Conrad stands outside her apartment in Orono. Conrad transferred from St. Lawrence University in New York to the University of Maine. The tuition at UMaine is lower than that at St. Lawrence, a private school, but her books this year are more expensive than they were in her freshman year at St. Lawrence.

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    University of Maine student Olivia Conrad walks to her car after class in Orono on Thursday. Conrad, a sophomore, transferred to the UMaine after her freshman year at St. Lawrence University, to be closer to her family in Yarmouth and save money on tuition. "In Yarmouth, it's a generally well off community where parents can offer some support," she said, "so I feel like growing up there, in school, we were never taught specifics about loans and applying for school."

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    Olivia Conrad, seen in her apartment in Orono on Thursday, transferred from St. Lawrence University in New York to the University of Maine, where her tuition is lower.

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    Sheri Clark Nadell talks with her son Aaron and her husband, Paul, during dinner at their home in Brunswick. The Nadels put their first two sons through college and are preparing to do the same for Aaron, but not without amassing debt because of the rising cost of secondary education.

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    Paul Nadell, his son Aaron and his wife, Sheri Clark Nadell, relax on their couch after dinner at their home in Brunswick. The Nadels put their first two sons through college and are preparing to do the same for Aaron, amassing debt of their own because of the rising cost of college.

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    Barry Rodrigue, 65, went back to college when he was 40 and earned three graduate degrees. It took a decade of school and $180,000 in student loans. Now, Rodrigue, an associate professor of arts and humanities at the University of Southern Maine, is out of a job, one of seven professors who were laid off when three academic programs at USM were cut last month.

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