FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington launched a new program Wednesday that guarantees students they can earn a degree and graduate in four years or they will get additional necessary courses free.

Farmington in Four is available for all full-time, first-year students
beginning in the fall 2010 semester. Some first-year transfer students
may also be eligible.

Participants will be guided with the help of faculty advisers to chart a  road map that leads them to complete their degree and graduate in four years. If not, the remaining required courses will be provided free, including tuition, fees and charges for books or materials.

The traditional four-year degree program has turned into what can take five or six years nationally for some students, said Allen Berger, UMF provost and vice president for academic affairs.

While 60 percent of UMF students complete their work and graduate in four years, the national average is 37 percent, he said.

In these economic times, delayed graduation, for whatever reason, can mean extra costs for the student and loss from entering the job market or higher education later, he said.

The University plans to accomplish the new program by partnering the student with guidance from faculty advisers, improved planning and software tools.

The software will help guide students to obtain the necessary courses for their majors. It will also help the university by providing data that indicates what courses are needed for an upcoming semester, he said.

While some students take longer to complete the work for their degrees
due to personal reasons, some courses or seats within a course are not
available at the time the student needs them, especially in light of
recent economic cuts to schools.

“We are making a commitment that no student will face delayed graduation because of our failure to provide a needed course in a timely manner,” he said. “UMF will make sure that our supply of courses and seats in needed, required courses matches demand.”

  Students who choose to sign on to the guarantee will commit to continuous enrollment for four years while maintaining the minimum required grade point average for their major and satisfactory grades in all courses for degree requirements.

Neither the student nor school can be passive, said Elaine Vincent, interim UMF vice president of enrollment management and marketing.

The program could teach some wonderful life skills, she said. Planning, discipline and communicating their plans are skills that may look good to future employers, showing “they did what they said they were going to do.” 

The program will also be available to students not enrolled in Farmington in Four.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer our incoming students a new resource to help them stay on track academically and chart a clear course to their post-graduate and professional future,” said UMF President Theodora J. Kalikow in a statement.

More information is available online at the Farmington in Four Web site: or by calling the Admission Office at 778-7050.

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