Education

UMPI offering degree for less than $10,000

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is launching a new online degree program aimed at helping students return to school to finish a bachelor’s degree for less than $10,000 — less than a third the cost of a typical four-year degree at the school.

The campus announced the new program, called the Competency Based Education Bachelor of Business Administration degree, on Monday. The program goes live in the coming fall semester.

When enrolling for the online degree path, students will be able to count their past college credits, work experience and other training toward their degree. Once they know how many credits they need to wrap up the degree, the students pay a flat tuition rate of $2,000 per semester, which is less than half the going in-state tuition-and-fees rate at the school.  

All classroom materials would be available online, so students also would avoid spending hundreds of dollars on physical textbooks. They also qualify for the university system’s adult degree completion scholarship, worth up to $4,000 per year up to eight consecutive semesters.

This program is the latest in a push by the seven-campus university system to convince former students who made it part of the way through their education to come back to finish up credits and earn their degrees.

“There are an estimated 200,000 adults in Maine with some college but no degree,” said UMPI President Ray Rice. “Our new program is specifically designed to meet the needs of this group of Mainers, or any adults across the nation in a similar situation.”

UMPI officials say they’re the first public university in New England to offer this sort of program, and one of just a few nationally. The school is considering adding an additional pathway for an accounting degree, depending on how successful this model proves.

As early as 2012, University of Maine System officials have been trying to pinpoint ways to bring back more former students who were forced to put a hold on their education because they either couldn’t afford to finish or life interfered.

“Maine faces a silver tsunami as a vast generation of our citizens approach retirement,” UMS Chancellor James Page said. “By 2025, our state’s economy will require 158,000 more workers with a postsecondary degree or credential than exist today. This critical workforce need will only be met if we are successful in advancing more Maine adults to degree completion.”

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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