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To Retain More Students, U. Maine Launches Tuition-Free Research Program for 600 Freshmen, Sophomores

Linda Coan O'Kresik
Bangor Daily News
Dannel Malloy, Chancellor of the University of Maine System

The University of Maine is launching a tuition-free program for about 600 incoming freshmen and sophomores that's aimed at improving student retention.

The school is billing the program as a collection of hands-on research experiences in subjects from forests to art and music. The courses will begin during the week before classes start and will continue throughout the fall semester.

System Chancellor Dannel Malloy says the program is designed to engage students and ensure they stay in school beyond their freshman year, which he says is a strong indicator of whether they'll eventually graduate.

"In a state that has a declining demographic, [it's important] to retain more of those students, particularly in their freshman and sophomore years. This program is exactly designed to do that," he says.

The program will be paid for as part of the $240 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation to the school last year.

The courses will begin on university campuses in Orono and Machias this fall, but officials hope to eventually offer the program to all incoming students across the system.