Board Approves $6.6 Million Increase in Grant and Scholarship Aid

UMS Board of Trustees unanimously adopts FY20 Spending Plan including 7.6% increase in gift aid, approves $3.4 million space elimination investment to reduce operating costs

$6.6 Million Increase in Grants and Scholarships:  The Board approved an FY20 spending plan that increases gift aid available to meet the financial need of students by $6.6 million, a 7.6% increase over the grant and scholarship funding available for students this year.  Over the last five years the universities have increased gift aid to $93.2 million, a $26.6 million (40%) increase while holding the line on tuition.

In April the University of Maine System announced that one-in-four Maine undergraduate students, 4,077 degree seeking students, were enrolled in the spring semester free of tuition and fee expense as a result of the grant and scholarship aid provided through financial aid awards.

“Our financial aid investments are lowering the cost of attendance for Maine students and their families,” said Trevor Hustus of Hollis the Student Trustee to the University of Maine System Board. “Reducing the reliance on loans helps ensure that student debt does not prevent students from staying in Maine after graduation and starting a career in their hometown.”

The FY20 budget includes a 2.5% inflation-based adjustment to instate tuition based on the consumer price index.  Instate, undergraduate cost-per-credit hour will increase between $6 and $10 per credit hour at the campuses in the upcoming academic year (page 54 of 482).

Early College and Adult Learner Expansions:  The FY20 budget projects an additional increase in early college credit hours of 12% over the upcoming year and 6,500 in additional credit hours production linked to soon-to-be-launched, fully-online nursing, education, business and adult completion programs.  Marketing for these online programs will begin later this month.

Expanding access to Maine high school students and delivering academic programming that career-focused adults can balance with work and family commitments are strategic priorities for the System.  Governor Mills proposed an additional $3.1 million in state support for early college and $4.1 million for adult degree completion initiatives in her biennial budget proposal.

$3.4 Million approved for space reduction investments:  The Board approved expending up to $3.4 million from the Trustees Strategic Investment Fund over the next two fiscal years for reduction by demolition of University facility space statewide.  Current planning has identified a group of 27 demolition projects totaling 181,000 gross square feet of underutilized space. Reducing occupied space produces an operational savings of $7 per square foot.

“Reducing inefficient, underutilized space has a positive impact on our operating costs and advances the Board’s commitment to providing affordable access to public higher education,” said Ryan Low, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration.  “We are on a path to decreasing the university footprint by approximately 350,000 square feet over ten years, reducing costs by nearly $2.5 million for our students and taxpayers.”

Funding approved by the Board today will contribute to plans at the University of Southern Maine to demolish the Dickey Woods residence hall on the Gorham campus.  USM will be removing the vacant space as part  a multi-year implementation of a master plan that will build a new career and student success center and student housing on the Portland campus.
USM also plans millions of dollars in investment at the Gorham campus with ongoing capital investments, proceeds from the University workforce bonds, and public private partnerships that will invest in dining hall facilities and energy inefficiencies.

Academic Programs and Naming Items Approved:  The Board approved the following items from its consent agenda:

  • UMPI greenhouse facility to be known as “The Zillman Family Greenhouse
  • UMF Master in Special Education
  • USM Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

Page Scholarship Fund: The Board announced a tribute gift program to establish a System-wide scholarship celebrating the leadership of outgoing University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page.  In December the System announced that Chancellor Page would be retiring at the end of the academic year.

Proceeds from the Page Scholarship Fund will prioritize awards for adult Maine learners in keeping with the advancements in access for career-focused students achieved as part of Chancellor’s One University initiative.   Contributions to the fund can be made by visiting

Board Welcomes New Trustees:  Former Congressman Michael Michaud of East Millinocket and Sven Bartholomew of Brewer were nominated to the Board of Trustees by Maine Governor Janet Mills.  The nominations were approved by the Legislature and the new members attended their first meeting of the Board today.  Trustee Michaud will also be serving on the Maine Community College System Board.

Election of Officers:  The Board unanimously approved the continued service of Trustee James Erwin of Yarmouth as Board Chair and Trustee Kelly Martin of Fort Kent as Board Vice Chair for 2019-2020.

Recognition for Trustee Samuel Collins of Caribou, Former Board Chair:  The Board adopted a resolution of appreciation for Trustee Samuel Collins nine years of service and leadership on the Board of Trustees.  Trustee Collins served for four years of Board Chair, two years as Vice Board Chair, and led two Chancellor search committees and the search for the UMPI president.  Link to photo of presentation.

Recognition of President John Short, University of Maine at Fort Kent:  The Board adopted a resolution recognizing UMFK President Short’s service in Maine on the occasion of his planned retirement.  John Short helped strengthen a state-leading nursing program at UMFK that has seen enrollment grow 53% over five years and will be launching a new, fully online RN to BSN Nursing program in the Fall of 2019.  President Short was also recognized for the growth and state leadership in early college programming at the institution. Link to photo of presentation.

Advancement on Strategic Priorities:  The Board heard a number of reports originating from the Declaration of Strategic Priorities adopted in December to expedite and guide public higher education reform.  Updates included reports on Maine Center Ventures, biomedical sciences student debt, the development of microcredentials, the academic program funding model, and a discussion the status and next steps on the One University initiative.