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Updated: November 5, 2021

Bucking national trend, UMaine enrollment soars to highest ever

Large crowd of students viewed from behind carrying backpacks at the UMaine campus in Orono. Courtesy / University of Maine The University of Maine System will hold in-state tuition flat next year. Students are shown here on the Mall at the campus in Orono.

Despite nationwide declines in college enrollment, the student roster at the University of Maine rose to a record 11,989 this fall, the highest number in more than 150 years at the public institution.

The enrollment represents a 2.1% increase over fall 2020, when UMaine had 11,741 students, the Orono-based school announced Thursday.

This year's increase was driven partly by a jump in out-of-state enrollment, which is up 5% over last year and 150% since fall 2009. Students from outside of Maine currently account for 41% of undergraduates students pursuing degrees at the school.

“UMaine students participate in research, innovation and exploratory learning that defines tomorrow,” said University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “It is a fantastic time to be a Black Bear with new investments and opportunities coming to our flagship campus. We are pleased more students are choosing the comprehensive, success-focused educational experience we provide at the University of Maine.”

UMaine is part of the University of Maine System and has a regional campus at the University of Maine at Machias. Ferrini-Mundy has led both institutions since July 2018. 

Enrollment in Machias is up 1% over last year at 505 students, though its enrollment is not included in UMaine's record-setting number.

Chart showing growth in enrollment at UMaine going back to 1868
Courtesy /University of Maine
In this chart of enrollment at UMaine going back to 1868, the blue and yellow lines represent male and female enrollment, respectively.

The growth in enrollment at UMaine comes after national higher education enrollment fell 6.5% over the last two years, in part due to the impact of COVID-19. The number of students graduating from Maine high schools has also declined for decades, and that trend is expected to continue until at least 2037. 

First-year enrollment at UMaine this fall has climbed to 2,225 students, an 8% increase over last year’s incoming class.

The Class of 2025 is the fourth-largest incoming class in the school's history. Half of the first-year cohort has a high school grade point average of 3.5 or higher, and the mean GPA for the new class is the highest in more than a decade, according to UMaine.

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