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March 19, 2018

300 full scholarships awarded at four UMaine campuses — with more to come

About the Promise Initiative

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.

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.

Promise Award priority deadlines and links to campus information:

At a University of Maine System board of trustees meeting in Portland today, presidents of the campuses in Augusta, Fort Kent, Machias and Presque Isle reported that an 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 fall 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 at the University of Southern Maine.

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 this spring, 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.

The Pine Tree State Pledge offered by the University of Maine at Augusta is also available for qualifying transfer and part-time students. Students attending UMA at the University's Augusta and Bangor campuses, through UMA's University College Centers across the state, and students accessing programming on-line are eligible for the award.

Update on UMaine presidential search

Dan Demerit, executive director of public affairs for the University of Maine System, told Mainebiz this morning that the trustees will hear a report on the presidential search in executive session, as allowed under the state's right-to-know law since it is a personnel matter.

"We are expecting that the board will come out of executive session and authorize negotiations with the selected candidate," he said. "We will not publicly introduce UMaine's new president until those negotiations are complete. It will be at least a few weeks — perhaps longer as we juggle the logistics of setting up an introduction event."

In February, as reported by Mainebiz, UMaine named the following as the four finalist UMaine president candidates in the search for a successor to Susan Hunter, who became the first woman to serve as president of UMaine in July 2014 and announced almost two years ago her plans to step down on June 30, 2018:

  • Amit Chakma, president and vice chancellor of the University of Western Ontario.
  • Joan Ferrini-Mundy, chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation.
  • Sally Reis, who holds the Letitia Neag Morgan Endowed Chair in Educational Psychology and is a board of trustees distinguished professor at the University of Connecticut.
  • Nancy Targett, provost of the University of New Hampshire.

The four were selected from among 67 applicants in a national search that began early last fall.

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