Early College for Maine Students

Maine high school students, international students attending Maine high schools, and Maine homeschool students who have filed a letter of intent with the Maine Department of Education

Through a partnership with the Maine Department of Education,  UMaine Machias allows qualified high school students attending Maine public high schools, state-approved independent institutions, or homeschool students who have filed a letter of intent with the Maine DOE to take up to 12 credits per year tuition-free.   Maine students paying tuition to attend their high school are charged a special early college rate of $138.25/credit hour.  Our 2020-2021 in-state tuition rate is $245 per/credit hour.

These courses are online, live on the UMaine Machias campus, or on-site at local high schools.

Students can save up to $17,840 in tuition, fees, room, board, and other expenses.  This estimate is based on a student living on campus for one year and earning 30 credits.

How to Apply Presentations

To register for Early College courses you will need to create an account on the ExplorEC Portal at explorec.maine.edu.  ExplorEC is designed to facilitate the development of networks between the high schools and UMaine Machias, making it easier for students to sign up for classes and expedite data collection.  ExplorEC will help UMaine Machias and your high school work together seamlessly to provide a bridge to better serve students, parents, teachers, college faculty, and EC administrators.

Students can take any courses offered by the UMaine Machias as long as they meet the prerequisite requirements. Course lists are available online.
Students that complete an early college course will have grades placed on an official UMaine Machias transcript.

Students Attending Maine High Schools

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Homeschool Students

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Important Financial Information

The Maine Department of Education and UMaine Machias seek to provide greater access to early college opportunities for qualified high school students.  Courses are taught by UMaine Machias faculty in a traditional classroom setting at the Machias campus or online anywhere in the state.
Tuition is free for qualifying students for 12 credits per year (see eligibility below). The Maine Department of Education, through the Aspirations program, pays for half the tuition, and UMaine Machias grants a scholarship for the other half.  Students and their parents/guardians (or high schools in some cases) are responsible for textbooks. Textbooks can be purchased online through our online campus bookstore or from a store of your choosing.  Students have the choice of buying or renting textbooks or e-books.
  1. For Maine students attending Maine public high schools, state-approved independent institutions, or homeschool students who have filed a letter of intent with the Maine DOE: A maximum of twelve (12) credits can be covered by Department of Education funding per fiscal year (July 1-June 30). Students interested in taking more credits than those approved by the Department of Education may do so but will be charged at the special Early College rate of $138.25/per credit for any credits over the maximum of twelve (12).  Eligibility guidelines are determined by the Maine Department of Education.  If a student receives free or reduced lunch at school or your family is experiencing financial hardship, then students may be eligible for a scholarship.  Have your school counselor or homeschooled parent fill out this form.
  2. For Maine Students who pay tuition to any high school in Maine:  Students may take courses at the special Early College rate of $138.25/credit hour. 
  3. Accepted UMaine Machias Students:  Graduating seniors who have been accepted to UMaine Machias may take courses that start prior to the date of graduation.  Please see the rates above. You will NOT need school counselor approval if you are already an accepted student.

**For Aspirations billing purposes the academic year runs from July 1st to June 30th.  Students who choose to take more than 12 credits or students who go over their 12 credits will be charged the early college tuition rate of $138.25 per credit.  It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of the number of credits they are taking per year.  This total includes any courses taken from any UMaine System schools as well as the Community College System regardless of whether they are online, on campus, or at a student’s high school.

Department of Education Aspirations Funding


Maine public high school students (also referred to as secondary students) must meet certain qualifying requirements to be eligible to participate in the Aspirations Program. High School (Secondary), public school students and qualifying home-schooled students may be considered eligible to participate if they meet the following:

  • Minimum high school grade point average of at least a 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0), or the equivalent of a “B” average or, in lieu of a 3.0, they are recommended for participation by a school unit’s administration (see exception statement below)
  • The eligible institution has determined that the student has satisfactorily completed any course prerequisites;
  • The school unit approves;
  • The student’s parent or caregiver approves; and
  • The eligible institution has space available for the secondary student

Exception – Student Eligibility

A secondary public school or home-schooled student who does not meet the grade point eligibility requirements, or is a first or second-year student (freshman or sophomore), is eligible to participate if:

  • The student has received a recommendation to participate from the student’s school administration or teacher following an assessment of the student by the school administration; and
  • The student has been approved for participation by an eligible institution.

The Aspirations Program is funded by the Maine Legislature and authorized under Title 20-A, Chapter 208-A. The program is administered by the Maine Department of Education.

IMPORTANT:  International students and private school students who pay tuition to attend a private school or 60/40 high school are not covered by the Aspirations program.  However, they can take courses at a special early college reduced tuition rate.  

To learn more about the UMaine System access policy for Early College download our Student Access PDF.