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Maine Universities Report 1st Enrollment Growth in 13 Years

Public Higher Education in Maine Expands Access and Attracts More Out-of-State
Students to overcome decline in size of Maine’s traditional college-aged population

ORONO, MAINE – Enrollment at Maine’s Public Universities has grown 1.6% at Maine’s public universities according to the 2016 Fall Semester Enrollment Report.  The increase marks the first growth in enrollment for the universities since 2003 and comes despite an on-going decline in the number of students graduating from Maine high schools and an overall drop in the size of Maine’s traditional college-aged population.

Total headcount for the Fall 2016 Semester is reported at 29,465 students, an increase of 471 students from the Fall 2015 Semester.   Out-of-state enrollment increased 9.3% this year, bringing a total of 4,256 out-of-state students to Maine.  More than 20% of out-of-state students start their careers in Maine after graduation according to a Life After UMaine survey.   Adding young, college-educated adults to Maine’s workforce is a critical priority for our aging state.

As part of the One University Initiative Maine has achieved a nation-leading commitment to affordability, freezing instate tuition for an historic six years.  Maine’s universities have also prioritized expanding access to public higher education, working with new partners across the state and deploying new technologies to ensure learners of all ages, locations and backgrounds can earn a college degree.

Examples of access expansion include:

  • Early College Programming:   3,034 high school students participated in Maine university early college programing in the 2015-2016 academic year, a 121% increase since the start of the decade according to the June 2016 report (slide 14) to the UMS Academic and Student Affairs Committee.  Early college programming is available in more than 100 Maine high schools across the state.  2,385 high school students are registered in courses for the Fall 2016 Semester on a path to earn 12,082 college credits at little or no cost for their families.
  • Adult Degree Completion Scholarships:  Stranded adult learners from 133 different Maine communities have been awarded a University of Maine System Adult Degree Completion Scholarship over the last two years to get back on track to earning a college degree.  Distance learning and University College locations are critical to helping placed-bound adults access public higher education programming.   One-third of Maine university students (9,636) are over the age of 25.
  • Maine National Guard Tuition Waivers:  The Legislature funded tuition waivers that 91 qualifying members of the Maine National Guard are using in the Fall of 2016
  • Community College Credit Transfer:  722 Maine university students attending class in the Fall of 2016 transferred to a university from the Maine Community College System.  In 2015 the Maine University and Community College Systems signed a sweeping credit transfer agreement.

“Educational and state opportunities are irrevocably linked,” said James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System.  “Maine’s universities are extending access to our programs into every Maine community and attracting students beyond our borders to help address our state’s critical workforce needs.”


The Fall 2016 Enrollment Report will come before the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the University of Maine System on Tuesday, November 8.   Click here for the full committee agenda as well as meeting times and locations.