Maine public universities pledge free college credit eligibility For Maine high school graduates earning Seal of Biliteracy

State and University partnership can reduce college costs by more than $1,500 for Maine families,
meet growing workforce need for bilingual workers, and build proficiency in English and additional languages 

Portland, Maine — Starting in the fall of 2019, incoming first year students who have earned the Maine Seal of Biliteracy will be eligible for an award of six or more free college credits at Maine’s public universities as part of a partnership announced today by the Maine Department of Education and the University of Maine System. The credits awards can reduce college costs by more than $1,500 for students and their families.

168 Maine students were awarded the credential this spring at high school graduation ceremonies at  22 different Maine schools. Students applied for and received Maine Seal of Biliteracy recognition for proficiency in 14 different languages.

The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given in recognition of students who have studied and attained a high degree of skill in English and at least one other language by high school graduation. The Seal seeks to encourage students to pursue biliteracy, recognizes the positive cognitive and academic benefits of being bilingual, and can serve as evidence of academic and workplace readiness.  Follow this link to additional background on the Maine Seal of Biliteracy.

“We want our students to become lifelong learners who are clear, effective communicators, problem solvers, involved citizens, and integrative, informed thinkers.  All of these characteristics are enhanced by the study of another language,” said Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin. “Monolingualism is no longer a viable option in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.  We want to ensure that all Maine students will have access to high quality instruction in world languages, and that we are providing outstanding English learning programs for our students who are speakers of other languages.”

Students Learn Tuition Savings News:  Thirty-nine Maine Seal of Biliteracy recipients have applied for and been accepted for fall admission at a Maine public university. These students were invited to a recognition luncheon today in Portland at the University of Southern Maine hosted by President Glenn Cummings. As part of the luncheon, University of Maine System Chancellor James Page and Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin notified the learners that their Maine Seal of Biliteracy certification can now reduce their college costs by more than $1,500 based on the average tuition rate across the University of Maine System.  Link to group photo.

Pacifique Ndayizeye, a Deering High School graduate from Portland attended the luncheon. He was born in Burundi and studied in Uganda before immigrating to Maine two-and-a-half years ago with his family.  Pacifique speaks English, French and Kirundi, and anticipates earning eight free college credits because of the Maine Seal of Biliteracy certification when he begins his studies as a psychology major at the University of Southern Maine in the fall.

“My journey to college has crossed borders and covered a lot of ground, but my goal of earning an affordable degree that creates opportunity for me in Maine is the same as every university student,” said Ndayizeye. “I am eager to begin at USM in the fall and am grateful for the opportunity to earn recognition and college credits for my achievements in language learning.”

“Preparing Maine high school students for college success while providing affordable access to the degrees and credentials that lead to Maine career opportunities are top priorities for the University of Maine System,” said James Page, Chancellor. “Partnering with the Maine Department of Education and Maine high schools to give students the chance to work at the college level reduces their cost and opens up opportunities.”

Demand for bilingual workers doubles:  Workforce demand for bilingual workers more than doubled in the first half of the decade according to a New American Economy Report issued in March of 2017. The report, which analyzed job postings across the nation, found that in 2015, 630,000 postings were aimed at bilingual workers. The report concluded that proficiency in more than one language is among the most important skills a job seeker can have.

“Language proficiency has to extend beyond English for employers and organizations committed to providing inclusive, inviting service to all of their potential customers. The same can be said for Maine business considering international market opportunities for their products or services,” said Edward McKersie, President of Pro Search, INC. and founder of Live and Work in Maine. “The Seal of Biliteracy provides Maine high school graduates with a credential that signifies achievement in language learning.  It also provides free college credit that gives our students an early and affordable start on a University of Maine System degree that leads directly to opportunities in our state workforce.”

For more information about the Maine Seal of Biliteracy, please visit the Maine Department of Education website: or contact: Lavinia Rogers, World Language Specialist at
Distributed 6/27/19