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UMaine system increasing out-of-state enrollment

The University of Maine system has seen a spike in the past several years of out-of-state students as many programs have been implemented to attract potential newcomers. Two of these include the tuition match for some New England states in 2015 and the new Flagship Match program for students enrolling for the 2018-2019 school year.

UMaine also held a tuition freeze for six years, from 2011 to 2017.

In 2015, the UMaine system started a new program for out-of-state students in New England called the UMaine Flagship Match. This said that students from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania could potentially receive in-state tuition if they qualified. For example, if a student from Massachusetts qualified, they would be paying the in-state tuition of UMass Amherst at approximately $14,000 per year, compared to UMaine out-of-state costs of approximately $29,000 per year.

The 2018-2019 Flagship Match program released several months ago is noted on the UMaine website as “a competitive scholarship program that guarantees academically qualified, first-year students from several states will pay the same tuition and fee rate as their home state’s flagship institution.”

This upcoming program includes many more states than in 2015. Students from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, California and several others can now qualify for the program.

Awards are based on 15-credit semesters, as the University of Maine System (UMS) is focused on a “Think 30” program, a system that promotes 30 credits a year to ensure students earn their degree in four years.

According to the Portland Press Herald (PPH), out of 28,997 students enrolled in the UMS for fall 2018, 5,727 of them are out-of-state, an 11 percent increase from last fall. The University of Southern Maine saw an 18 percent increase.

Out-of-state students typically pay higher tuition, thus increasing the amount of money in the system. About half of the out-of-state students attend the flagship campus in Orono for $27,960 per year, while in-state students are paying $8,580 per year.

Systemwide, however, there has been a 3.5 percent decrease in out-of-state enrollment. The majority of the student body in the UMS is from Maine, and there has been a significant decrease in high school graduates in Maine in the past several years, a growing concern for the Maine workforce.

The PPH reported that about 76 percent of the UMS is in-state students. For the past several years, tuition was frozen, state funding was flat and enrollment has been declining.

A hike in out-of-state students through these flagship matching programs shows that they have been working, as each year the incoming first-year class has been increasing. The past two years in Orono, the classes have grown to over 2,000 students, forcing first-year housing to expand to upperclassman dorms, such as Aroostook, Kennebec and Hancock halls.

Reportedly, one of the most-watched financial figures is the number of credit hours students are enrolled in, as it ties directly to tuition revenue. This is one of the driving forces in the UMS Think 30 initiative.

A more thorough report will be available at the board of trustees meeting in November.

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