Promise Initiative Benefits 300 Maine Students So Far — Sign Up for Free College in 2018!

PORTLAND, MAINE —  Presidents of the Universities of Maine at Machias, Augusta, Fort Kent, and Presque Isle informed the University of Maine System Board of Trustees today that the promise initiative announced last October has already produced 300 financial aid awards that would completely cover the cost of tuition and standard fees for Maine students attending their institutions in the Fall of 2018.  The campus leaders informed the Board that their admissions and financial aid teams are still accepting applications for admissions and aid with the hope of putting even more Maine students on an affordable path to a college degree and a Maine career.

Under the promise initiative first-year Maine students with the greatest financial need as determined by eligibility for a federal Pell grant as part of their financial aid award will be able to attend the Universities of Maine at Presque Isle, Fort Kent, Augusta, and Machias starting in the Fall of 2018 without paying out-of-pocket for tuition and standard fees.   Originally brought forward by the leadership team at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, the initiative seeks to build on the enrollment growth System campuses have already achieved in Orono, Farmington, and in Southern Maine.

The University of Maine at Machias has provided 22 Downeast Promise awards to aEccepted students as part of their financial aid awards at this early stage of the admissions cycle

“Our partnership with the University of Maine at Machias is creating new opportunities for scholarship and service in the Downeast region,” said Susan J. Hunter, President of the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias.  “The Downeast Promise keeps these opportunities available to Maine students with the greatest financial need.”

The commitment to cover tuition and standard fees for Pell-eligible Maine students at the four Maine institutions with the lowest tuition rates is possible because of a System commitment to public higher education affordability which has included a freeze in tuition for six of the last seven years and historic investments in institutional aid budgets across the campuses.

“The promise initiative and the hundreds of students who will be served next fall is a direct result of our public university commitment to financial stewardship and affordability,” said James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System.  “Through partnership and additional investment in our programs and aging infrastructure we must build even more capacity to address Maine’s most pressing workforce needs.”

The promise scholarships being offered by UMA, UMFK, UMM, and UMPI are last dollar awards that are only applied after all other grant and scholarships (i.e. Maine State Grant, Pell, Racino Scholarships and other funds) are applied.  UMA, which launched its program in the Spring of 2018, identified 54 applicants for the current semester who qualified for a Pine Tree State Pledge award.  After all other grant or scholarship funds were applied only 18 students needed Pine Tree State Pledge funds to cover tuition and standard fee balances.

First-Year, Full-Time Students and Four-Year Degree Completion

The promise initiative at the University of Maine System leverages growing investments in institutional aid with existing federal and state resources to cover all tuition and standard fee costs for Pell recipients who commit to taking at least 30 credits per year and maintaining a 2.0 GPA.  Coupled with intensive student support services and academic programs designed to be completed in four years, the initiative seeks to reduce student loan debt and time to degree completion.

Students who continue to maintain financial and academic eligibility can count on support from a promise initiative for four years assuming ongoing federal and state support for public higher education.

“Applications for admissions and aid are still being accepted at the Universities of Maine at Augusta, Fort Kent, Machias, and Presque Isle,” said John Short, President of the University of Maine at Fort Kent. “But deadlines for priority consideration at the campuses are approaching fast.  We have incredible workforce challenges in our State and want to help as many Maine students as possible get the assistance they need to enroll in our institutions, advance through our programs, and launch successfully into a promising Maine career.”

The future of the promise initiative programs will be highly dependent on the continued availability of existing federal and state resources, new investments, and the overall performance of the programs.