How to Pay for College for Better Stability

The University of Maine System offers many scholarships, waivers and other financial aid.

The full cost of college and the financial aid process can be difficult to understand. Financial stability is a common worry for adult students thinking about going back to college. Your college costs will depend on what University of Maine System university you select, how many classes you want to take and for how much aid you qualify. Loans, waivers, grants and scholarships can come from federal sources, the state of Maine, private lenders and from each individual school.

There are many financial aid options available for adults who want to come back to school to start or finish a degree. The University of Maine System offers many resources to help you create a plan to pay for school, including many waivers and scholarships and a financial aid frequently asked questions list. You can also reach out to a student success coach to have someone walk you through the process.

Each University of Maine System institution has a net price calculator which will factor the cost plus what part of that cost financial aid covers, depending on your specific circumstances.

Explore your financial options:

Below are some opportunities to explore so that you can find alternative sources of funding:

  • Speak with your employers about educational benefits that they may offer.
  • Apply for scholarships every year that you are in school.
  • State agencies may offer educational assistance to eligible clients of state sponsored retraining programs
  • Veterans and current military may be eligible for educational benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Explore options available at your college including payment plans, work and/or volunteer programs
  • Speak with an expert: Education lenders, accountants or financial planners may be able to give you specific advice based on your own particular financial situation and provide suggestions about how to tap into other resources. This may include home equity loans, lines of credit, loans against retirement funds or life insurance policies or more.
  • Consider private alternative educational loans only as a last resort. These loans are based on the credit-worthiness of the applicant and may require a cosigner. Private loans generally will have higher variable interest rates than federal student aid loans and each lender sets its own interest rates, fees and terms. The Federal Government requires all private loan borrowers to complete an Applicant Self Certification form. The lender will provide this document.

Many employers in Maine offer tuition and education benefits for their employees. Check with your employer’s Human Resources office to determine if they offer tuition benefits or flexible options for adults looking to return to college.

You can also earn credit for what you know through the Prior Learning Assessment—transfer credits and life experience credits can save you money at the start!

Everyone who attends college may be eligible for federal and state grants. Find out what you qualify for by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) (External Site).

Fill out the FAFSA every year between October 1 to June 30 in order to reapply for financial aid and scholarships. The earlier you apply, the better financial aid package you are likely to receive.

From the federal government: In Maine, approximately 75% of our students receive some form of financial assistance. You can explore your options by learning more about Pell and other Federal grants (External Site).

Beware of scholarship scams: Use only free scholarship searches. You should never pay for scholarship information.

From the state: Qualifying Maine adults can investigate scholarship and grant options through the Finance Authority of Maine (External Site). You may be eligible for Maine’s Adult Degree Completion Scholarship. Look for more adult-centric scholarships through the Maine Adult Promise Program (External Site).

Adult centric scholarships: There are many scholarships available through the Maine Adult Promise Program (External Site) and University of Maine System’s Adult Scholarships and Tuition Waiver page.

From The University of Maine System: You may be eligible for a scholarship or tuition waiver from the University of Maine System. Additionally, the financial aid office at your campus will be able to tell you if there are additional University-specific scholarships and grants available to you.

From lenders: Direct Loans are low-interest loans to help pay for the cost of your education after high school. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education (External Site). However, most of the contact will be with your loan servicer. Subsidized loans have no interest charged while you are in school at least half-time, during the grace period and during deferment periods. Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need and interest is charged during all periods, even during the time a student is in school and during grace and deferment period.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees has established tuition and fee waiver programs for the benefit of students attending the University so that the student is not required to pay all or a portion of their University tuition and, in some cases, mandatory fees. Students must meet specific criteria to receive these waivers.