UMaine System announces plan to cover tuition for 1200 Maine students

Last week, the University of Maine (UMaine) School System announced its plan to cover tuition and fees for 1,200 of the state’s current high school seniors. The announcement came at the first stop of UMaine’s high school counselor tour. 

At the meeting, System Chancellor Dannell Malloy spoke proudly, noting that “the University of Maine System is backed by more than $400 million in public investment, research funding, and donors who give generously to support our institutions and students…

“We can proudly offer Maine students unmatched affordability and access to the state’s most-highly-credentialed faculty and the most accredited academic programs and pathways to careers and advanced degrees.”

UMaine’s Director of Public Affairs since 2014 is Dan Demeritt, who previously worked as Governor Paul LePage’s director of communications.

In an interview with the Echo, Demeritt explained that the promise of tuition coverage made to Maine students is part of a larger initiative.

“The announcement that the University of Maine system plans to cover tuition and fees for more than 1,200 incoming Maine students next fall is part of a new student outreach campaign to make sure that Maine students and their families understand the values and opportunities that are here for them within the University System.” 

Demeritt also mentioned that covering 1,200 students will represent an increase of over 900 students from this current academic year. 

When asked about how the state has managed to fund these extra students, Demeritt stated that “what [the University of Maine System has] done is we’ve closed the gap between our tuition costs and our available financial aid to the point where we’re covering about 40 percent of our students’ incoming tuition and fees with state grants and other methods. It’s strong progress made over a number of years and by committing to a goal to cover more students next year and it’s an opportunity to demonstrate that we value our in-state students.” 

With an emphasis on experiential learning opportunities, the UMaine System feels that it offers unique opportunities for students that choose to turn to the state for their education.

According to a press release, “the average published tuition rate at Maine’s public universities is nearly four times lower than the average published tuition rate of the four in-state private institutions enrolling the most college-bound Maine high school graduates.” 

Demeritt insisted that this focus on affordability is a result of the care that the system shows toward its in-state students. 

Demeritt said, “Maine values you.” With the system offering over $11 million in private scholarships alone to in-staters, it is hard to dispute that notion.