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Promise Delivered: Tuition and Fees Covered for 477 New Maine Students

More Than 1,200 Maine students attend Maine’s Public Universities this Fall with tuition and fees covered
without out-of-pocket expense or loans thanks to new promise initiative, tuition waivers, and other awards

PORTLAND, MAINE — The University of Maine System announced today that it is delivering on its promise initiative, providing 477 first-year Maine students with access to a college education free of expenses associated with tuition or mandatory fees.  283 of these students are the recipients of a promise award that covers the difference between grants and scholarships and the cost of tuition and fees.  The remaining 194 first-year students were eligible for a promise award but did not have any tuition or fee expenses remaining after grants and scholarships had been applied to their accounts.

More Students Preparing for Maine Workforce Opportunities:  Enrollment up 2.5%

As part of its leadership to address Maine’s workforce crisis and lower student loan debt the University of Maine System leveraged its nation-leading commitment to affordability and financial aid investments to promise that first-year Maine students with the greatest financial need could attend the Universities of Maine at Augusta, Fort Kent, Machias, and Presque Isle free of tuition and mandatory fee expense starting in the Fall of 2018.  Students who make satisfactory progress toward four-year graduation and remain eligible for the federal pell grant will continue to receive promise award support until they earn their first degree.

Clair Hemphill is an 18-year-old from Fort Fairfield who started at the University of Maine at Presque Isle this fall.  She is the first member of her immediate family to go to college and is attending UMPI without tuition or fee expense with the help of the new University of Maine System’s Promise Initiative.  She is living at home to save on expenses and plans to become a classroom teacher in Maine upon graduation.

“If I continue with this program, I’ll be able to graduate college debt-free,” said Claire Hemphill. “To be able to avoid debt is a huge opportunity.”

UMA’s promise award, the Pine Tree State Pledge, is also available to transfer and part-time students to meet the needs of adult, career-focused students who can access education at the Augusta or Bangor campuses, UMA centers across the state, or through online programming.

Prospective Maine students and their families can learn more about the promise initiative programs at Maine’s public universities at these links:

UMA:  Pine Tree State Pledge
UMFK:  Promise Program
UMM:  Downeast Promise
UMPI:  Free for Four

Expanding access and improving affordability contributed to 2.5% growth in enrollment this fall, increasing the student population of the University of Maine System by 738 students.  One-third of the enrollment increase can be directly attributed to another record year of out-of-state enrollment.  Maine’s tuition advantage compared to other states and the quality of university programs helped attract 5,972 non-resident students to Maine’s public university campuses for the Fall 2018 semester.

“Maine’s universities are keeping more Maine residents here at home and attracting record numbers of out-of-state students to our state,” said James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System.  “With voter support for the University Workforce Bond we will help put even more students on a path to a Maine career and help address critical workforce challenges like the nursing shortage.”

Hundreds of Additional Maine Students Attending with Tuition and Fees Covered with Waivers and Scholar Awards

The 477 promise-award eligible Maine students attending the University of Maine System campuses this fall are enrolled alongside approximately 800 Maine students who are attending Maine’s universities with the support of waivers and scholar awards that cover tuition and fees.  UMaine’s Top Scholar Award, for example, is covering tuition and fees for 63 Maine students in the Fall of 2018.

764 Maine students were eligible in the 2017-2018 academic year for tuition and fee waiver programs established for the benefit of students attending the University of Maine System.  Eligibility categories in this count of students with tuition and fees covered for the 2017-2018 academic year include the Native American Waiver and Education Program, the Veterans Dependent Waiver, Tuition Waiver for Children of Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty, and Tuition Waivers for Persons in Foster Care.  Final figures for the Fall of 2018 are still being calculated.

Other Affordability Advancements

The University of Maine System strives to keep the cost of higher education within the means of all Maine families and to lower student loan debt.  The University of Maine System awarded financial aid to 23,948 students in the 2017-2018 academic year with an average aid award of $12,096, a 0.4% increase in students served and a 1.8% increase in the average aid award.  Total financial aid awarded across the System was $289.7 million in 2017-18, a $6.2 million (2.2%) increase compared to the prior year. Scholarships, grants, and waivers accounted for 55% of aid awarded and work study constituted 2%.

Additional initiatives and advancements in the affordability of public higher education include:

  • 171 Adult Degree Completion Scholarships awarded for the Fall of 2018 to state residents who are among the nearly 200,000 Maine adults who have earned some college credits but have not yet earned their first college degree;
  • The University of Southern Maine has invested more than $16 million in recent years  into financial aid and scholarships, providing aid to 90% of its students and lowering the average loan per student for three years in a row.  19 USM students are enrolled as Promise Scholars, a scholarship that covers half the cost of tuition;
  • The University of Maine at Farmington is strategically investing in financial aid to bolster resources that can help keep high-achieving Maine students in state and on a path to a Maine career.  93% of UMF students receive financial aid and the institution is able to meet 86% of demonstrated need of those applying for financial aid. UMF has also established an emergency funding program with the generous support of alumni, faculty, and staff to help students whose completion pathway to graduation comes under financial threat; and,
  • The University of Maine offers some form of financial aid to 99% of its students and has doubled its Maine Matters Awards.  Among its many scholarships and financial aid innovations is the Maine Match Program which commits to review and match the net cost of attendance offered to Maine residents by competing New England land grant institutions.
  • The University of Maine at Presque Isle offers a unique program to students with financial need who are not Pell grant eligible. UMPI’s For Maine Families Award provides eligible Maine students with an expected family contribution of $20,000 or less, but who are not Pell-eligible, to receive a significant reduction of their tuition and fees by applying $3,084 or more in financial aid grants and awards.