AUBURN — Central Maine Community College is one of three community colleges in Maine offering a new scholarship and assistance program for students who are struggling to complete their associate degrees. The program — known as Accelerate ME — will provide participating students with financial assistance, academic and personal counseling and priority course scheduling.

Accelerate ME is designed to help Maine adults who have earned at least 30 college credits to complete a two-year degree in 12 months. It is open to students who are currently enrolled part-time and on a schedule that will require two or more years to complete their degree. Also eligible are those who have not been enrolled within the past academic year but have been enrolled within the past five years. Preference will be given to those who have a personal income of below $25,000 or a family income less than $66,150.

According to the Maine Compact for Higher Education, 20 percent of working-age adults in Maine — about 189,000 people — have earned some college credit but lack degrees. And 59 percent of all job openings in Maine between now and 2018 will require education beyond high school, according to the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Sheila Lawlor, the CMCC coordinator for Accelerate ME, has noted that due in large part to the flexibility of this program she has already set up an independent study for one student, created a workable course schedule around work and family for another and awarded credit for prior learning to yet another.

Accelerate ME is funded by major grants from the Kresge Foundation and Unum. The program will help students pay for tuition, fees and books. Lawlor encourages anyone with an interest in starting the program this fall to contact her at 755-5448 or [email protected] More information is also available online at