State

Smaller University of Maine branches offer free tuition to lure students

Four University of Maine system campuses say they’ll offset the cost of tuition and fees for eligible in-state students as part of an effort to increase graduation rates and reduce student debt.

Starting in the fall semester of 2018, Universities of Maine branches at Presque Isle, Fort Kent, Augusta and Machias will build financial aid plans for any first-year students who qualify for a federal Pell grant to cover the cost of tuition and fees that aren’t already covered by the Pell grant.

The hope is that this offer, conceived at the University of Maine at Presque Isle before spreading to the other campuses, will draw more Maine first-year students to the system’s smaller universities. Ideally, system officials say, those students will go on to earn degrees, and stick around Maine — or even better rural Maine — to fill sorely needed roles in the workforce after they graduate.

“We’re especially challenged here in Aroostook County to get people with a postsecondary education to meet our needs and spark economic growth,” UMPI President Raymond Rice said.

Pell grants are issued to undergraduate students working on their first bachelor’s degree to help cover a portion of the cost of attending school. Unlike a loan, Pell grants don’t have to be repaid after a student graduates.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “Smaller University of Maine branches offer free tuition to lure students,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Nick McCrea, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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