The University of Maine is seeing a rise in out-of-state students committing to the Orono campus following the “Match Program” initiated in 2015. Several years ago, UMaine started its Flagship Match scholarship program, giving out-of-state students the opportunity to attend the Orono campus for the same tuition price they would pay to attend their own state’s flagship public school. This program includes Massachusetts and eight other states.
Jeff Hecker, UMaine’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, explained that gaining out-of-state students will help push people to stay in Maine. “It’s a good thing for the university, and it’s also a good thing for our state. The more we can bring young people to Maine, some of them are going to stay.”
The program was started to target two issues. Maine currently has the oldest median age in the country and continuously fewer students graduating high school each year. Although Maine student’s potential pool of applicants to the Orono campus has been shrinking, the Board of Trustees has halted a tuition increase for five consecutive years.
The program began to encourage the neighboring New England states of Maine to apply and attend school in Orono and has since expanded to include California, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hecker commented that Maine has been assertive in recruiting out-of-staters. For example, there has been billboards placed in Massachusetts advertising that students can attend UMaine for the same price as UMass Amherst.
Massachusetts students who meet the grade point average and test score requirements are awarded approximately $14,527, give or take based on tuition adjustments, from UMaine to bring their cost in line with UMass tuition.
Tuition and mandatory fees at UMaine add up to $10,628 for in-state students and $29,498 for out-of-state students. At UMass Amherst, tuition and fees are $15,345 for in-state students and $33,492 for out-of-state students.
According to UMaine, 430 students in the fall 2016 class were from Massachusetts, 327 of whom were given the flagship match scholarship. Since 2015, UMaine has seen a 41 percent increase in applications from students in Massachusetts. They have also seen a 56 percent increase from Connecticut, 26 percent from Rhode Island and a four percent increase from New Hampshire.
Hecker added that one of the goals at UMaine is to have a higher mix of out-of-state students. About seven years ago, the school had about 15 percent of out-of-state students, compared to 40 percent in the fall 2016 class. “That’s about our goal,” Hecker said. “We’d love to be right around there.”