Returning to Finish a Degree

Earn a degree after some time away.

Going back to college as an adult can feel a bit overwhelming. We understand the challenges adults face when returning to college—childcare, transportation, finances, juggling responsibilities and so much more. Many adults who started college—but stopped for whatever reason—want to go back. You may be choosing to finally reach that goal, you may want to be a role model for your children or may want the skills for a higher paying career to support you or your family. 

Whatever your reason, you are not alone. There are many adults right now making the same decisions and looking to go back to school for their own reasons. And, there are people at the University of Maine System that are here to help you along the way.


How to get started on your path to earning a college degree:

You have made the decision to go to college. What’s next? Going back to college is a big decision. Identify your support system, both on and off campus. Ask family, friends and co-workers to be your cheerleaders! Get them on your team now—they will be able to provide encouragement, compassion and understanding. It will be easier if you have a team behind you from the start. Don’t forget, there are also support systems on campus—classmates, instructors and advisors, all of whom are ready to be part of your team.

The University of Maine System has qualified staff to answer your questions about going to college, help you figure out what is your next best step, answer questions about financial aid and to help navigate your journey back to college. Contact one of our University of Maine System student success coaches or campus-based navigators to learn more programs, certifications, transferring college credits and so much more!

Your hard work from the past can help you graduate faster. If you have taken courses at other colleges or universities, or even a University of Maine System school, our schools can evaluate and potentially apply those credits and courses to your current degree path. The college you choose to attend within the University of Maine System will do a formal degree audit once you enroll. A degree audit is an evaluation of your previous and any current academic coursework from all the institutions you have attended. The college will also apply any past credits that qualify towards your degree. The audit provides an analysis of what degree requirements you still need to complete to earn your degree.

Start by talking with someone at your chosen college who specializes in credit from other institutions or a University of Maine System navigator if you are still undecided about which school is right for you. Make sure you contact every college you have attended and request transcripts of your past course history ahead of time.

You can also search for course equivalencies (Intranet Portal) to estimate which of your past courses the University of Maine System schools might accept, and which degree programs your past course work could be applied to. Be sure to search for programs that you might be interested in, and to see how far along you already are toward your degree.

Valuable experience can often come from outside of the classroom. You have learned skills at work, from military service or even from volunteer experience, and you may be able to turn these experiences into college credit. University of Maine System schools recognize the learning you have done as a part of your life experience, so you can earn credit for what you know toward your degree. Once you begin speaking to a navigator, ask about getting credit for what you have already done through the Prior Learning Assessments. 

If you want to finish the degree you already have credits for or something similar, contact an admissions counselor at the University of Maine System school you have chosen or a navigator for next steps. You might even be able to transfer credit from previous course work and apply it to a University of Maine System school.

If you are not sure whether you want to complete the degree you started, but know that you want to explore other possible degrees and careers, check out our career insights tool.

College costs will depend on which school you select, how many classes you want to take and for how much aid you qualify. We offer many financial aid options available for adults who want to come back to finish a degree, and resources to help you plan and pay for school. Visit this Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more!

Each University of Maine System institution has a net price calculator which will factor the cost in addition to what your specific financial aid plan covers.

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—transfer credits and life experience credits can save you money at the start!

The University of Maine System offers many financial aid options for adult students. Explore our financial aid page to learn more, or reach out to a campus-based student success coach for help.

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. Learn 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).

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.

Once you have decided to go back to school, pick which institution in the University of Maine System is the right fit for you and apply through our universal application form.

Some institutions require an application fee, which can be paid online using a credit card. If you do not have a credit card the site will advise you how to pay the fee. You will need to submit your academic records from your high school, GED, HiSet or college official transcript. A transcript is an official record of a student’s educational progress. The transcript may include information such as a list of classes taken, grades earned, your major area of study, grade point average and which degrees have been earned. Your official transcripts must be sent directly from the institution either electronically or in a sealed envelope to be considered “official.”

Note: Some schools have specific application deadlines; you will need to submit your application prior to the deadline for that semester.