First Time Student

Explore over 100 undergraduate degrees and programs.

Going to college for the first time as an adult is an exciting life choice. 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. 

If you are thinking about going to college, you know why you want to go. And we understand the challenges adults face when choosing to go to college for the first time—childcare, transportation, finances, juggling responsibilities and so much more. You are not alone. There are many adults right now making the same decisions—in fact, many of the students in the University of Maine System are also adults 25 years old and older. That’s why there are people at the University of Maine System that are here to help you along the way. Our navigators are here to help you evaluate the return on your investment, get you going and explain the process so you can make good decisions, overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.


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

You have made the decision to go to college. What is 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 them 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!

You have been out in the world now, and you have gained valuable experience doing a variety of things, in lots of different situations. You learn things at work, from military service or even from volunteer experience. That experience may be able to get you some academic credit.

University of Maine System schools have ways of recognizing the learning you did outside the classroom, 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. 

The University of Maine System offers over 100 degrees and certificates that will help you meet your career goals. Our academic program search tool can help you find the program that fits your needs.

Many programs in the University of Maine System offer flexible options such as eight-week programs and evening classes, online classes that are available over the internet, in-person and online hybrid courses and accelerated programs for working adults. Explore our schools on our universities page to find your right fit.

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.