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Tuition Incentives Give UMaine Enrollments a Big Boost

PORTLAND, Maine - A new University of Maine incentive for out-of-state students is helping to boost student applications so much that the school has started its first wait list in years.

UMaine is offering out-of-state students a special rate that matches the tuition they would pay at their home-state's flagship public school - UMass Amherst, for instance, in Massachusetts. Usually, out-of-state students pay tuition far higher than in-state rates.

The new policy - and a continued freeze on tuition rates - has driven a 17 percent boost in UMaine applications, university officials say.

And at the University of Southern Maine, meanwhile, new applications are rising even faster - up 25 percent over last year. And the quality of those students appears to be rising as well. 

"I can give you an example:  The highest scholarship that we award is the Presidential Scholarship for first-year students," says USM Vice President for Enrollment Nancy Davis Griffin. "Last year at this time we had awarded something like 136 of those scholarships and today we've awarded 759."

USM officials caution that it's a bit early to say whether it's achieved a major turnaround in lagging enrollments. That assessment should be made in May, they say, after an initial deadline for students to decide whether to enroll.



A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.