ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine is one of 14 higher-education institutions in the state volunteering to participate in a new program that aims to ease tuition expenses for out-of-state students who are also veterans.
The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, which is a provision of the Post-Sept. 11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, helps fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate rate.
Eligible veterans who live outside Maine and were paying the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition will no longer be responsible for making up the funding.
E.J. Roach, the university’s director of veterans education and transition services, said the institution participating in the program can contribute up to 50 percent of the funds and the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide matching funds.
“I think it’s important because it gives the student more choices,” Roach said. “In the past, a student was limited to attending a school in the state where they were from. It also gives the student an opportunity to attend a private school. It just provides more options for the student.”
The University of Maine System flagship campus in Orono has agreed to contribute up to $6,300 for each undergraduate student, $1,000 for each graduate student and $1,000 for each doctoral candidate who applies and qualifies for the program. A maximum of 20 qualified students will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
UM began accepting applications for the 2009-10 school year on Wednesday. The deadline will be 30 days after the start of the fall semester, which begins Aug. 31.
Eligible veterans may apply by going to www.umaine.edu/studentaffairs/vets and downloading and completing the application. Copies of the application may also be picked up at rooms 314 or 315 in the Memorial Union.
Roach said the 20-student cap would likely cover the qualified students at UM, although the final number of qualified students attending the university won’t be known until students are finished registering.
There are around 350 in-state and out-of-state students per semester who receive some sort of VA benefits, Roach said.
Other Maine institutions participating are Andover College campuses in Lewiston and South Portland, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University locations in Maine, Southern New Hampshire University’s Brunswick campus, Thomas College in Waterville, the University of Maine at Farmington, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine at Machias, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of New England in Biddeford, UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, and the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
Each institution has different funding levels and cap levels.
For more information, go to www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/Yellow_ribbon.htm or call UM’s Veterans Education and Transitions Services office at 581-1316.