FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington is offering freshmen students from Franklin County free on-campus housing for their first year, starting in the fall semester.

The program, Be Home At UMF, was offered only to Mt. Blue High School students for the fall of 2013, Jamie Marcus, UMF director of admissions, said.

This year, the program has expanded to any student graduating from a high school or any home-schooled student from Franklin County who enrolls for their freshman year at UMF, he said.

“We’d love to give more students the campus experience,” Marcus said. “They can ‘go away to school here’ in their own backyard.”

It breaks the feel of college being an extension of high school, he said.

The savings for on-campus housing amounts to more than $4,500 of the nearly $18,000 expense of housing, food and tuition, he said.

In addition, students may also qualify for academic merit scholarships worth up to $3,000 per year, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said.

It’s about giving a student the “full body experience” of college, he said. The opportunity to “get it all” from college life.

That experience may include joining 2,000 other students for campus life, participating in activities and events on campus, gaining independence or attending a college with small classes.

The program provides the university with the opportunity be more involved with local students.

“It’s our commitment to serve local students,” he said.

The program is being offered to students from Carrabassett Valley Academy, Mt. Abram High School, Mt. Blue High School, Rangeley Lakes Regional School, Spruce Mountain High School and home-schooled students.

There was more interest expressed last fall by Mt. Blue students who were offered the program, he said. About 20 more applications were received than previous years and eight more students than usual enrolled for the fall semester.

To learn more about the program to online at be-home.farmington.edu, or call UMF’s admission office at 778-7050.

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