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The University of Maine System will offer college students stranded by the permanent closure of their campuses the chance to finish their degrees in Maine starting this fall while paying in-state tuition.
While the coronavirus pandemic has forced college campuses across the country to temporarily close their campuses and shift instruction online, the virus is also leading some to close permanently as the pandemic has made future enrollment — and tuition revenue — uncertain and taken away housing revenue. In Vermont, for example, the state college system is debating the permanent closure of three campuses. In Ohio, the small, liberal arts Urbana University has announced its plans to close.
Called the “Maine Welcome,” the offer from the University of Maine System is the first of its kind nationally. The offer allows students from across the country to apply to transfer to a public university in Maine to continue their degree.
“Often a campus closure doesn’t come with a lot of notice. It’s very hard on students and we want to help them finish college,” University of Maine System spokesman Dan Demeritt said. “And it aligns with our goals of bringing more students to Maine.”
The system will expedite transfer applications and accommodate students whose academic performance has been impacted by COVID-19 and institutional closures.
The proposed average in-state tuition for full-time attendance at a Maine university for the upcoming academic year is $8,071 for undergraduate students and $23,190 for law school students.
The University of Maine System plans to resume in-person instruction this fall, though its campuses will likely make some adjustments — such as splitting up large lectures — to adhere to whatever social distancing guidelines are in place in the fall.
“The national conversation in higher education now includes the inevitable question: Will we come back in the fall?,” Chancellor Dannel Malloy wrote in an email to the university community this week. “I am ready to say we will.”
The offer of in-state tuition to attract out-of-state students isn’t the first university system program that discounts tuition for out-of-state students. The University of Maine’s Flagship Match program has allowed out-of-state students to attend UMaine at the same rate they would pay their home-state flagship universities.