FARMINGTON — With a goal of bringing more out-of-state students to the University of Maine at Farmington, a new program offers children of UMF graduates in-state tuition rates and scholarships.

The tuition legacy program is called Farmington is Family. Tuition savings amounts to over $9,000, starting with the 2016-17 academic year for new, returning or transfer students.

“We carved out our own niche, one that we feel proud of,” said Jared Cash, vice president for enrollment.  “We are going after our own folks — folks with a significant connection to UMF — with the legacy tuition program.”

At least one parent needs to have called UMF home for four years for their child to qualify for the program. Out of 14,000 alumni, over 4,400 reside out of state and 3,000 of those are of the age to have students starting college, he said.

Most out-of-state students at UMF usually have some connection to the local area — a camp, skiing at Sugarloaf or some other recreational activity here, Cash said.

As the population of high school graduates declines, there are not enough in-state students to fill the beds in the 27 colleges, community colleges and private schools in Maine, he said.

In response, schools in the University of Maine System are looking to bring students to campus from out of state, he said.

The University of Maine in Orono started a Flagship Match Program. Students are awarded tuition grants based on residency and academic standing.

“The Flagship Match Program is a competitive scholarship program that guarantees academically qualified, first-year students from several states will pay the same tuition and fee rate as their home state’s flagship institution,” according to the UMaine website.

“They have had success with the program and have the largest population of out-of-state students,” he said.

The Mountain to Sea program at the University of Southern Maine is geared toward students in New Hampshire and Vermont. At USM, tuition costs are what they would have paid at Keene State in New Hampshire or Castleton University in Vermont.

Based on a full-time load of classes, Maine residents pay $8,352 in tuition at UMF while non-Maine residents pay $17,440.  

Students from another New England state who are admitted to a UMF program not offered by a public school in their state may qualify for a reduced rate of $12,544.

With fees and room and board figured in with tuition, Maine residents pay an estimated $18,187 per year at UMF while out-of-state residents pay $27,275.

For six straight years, the tuition level at UMF has remained flat, Cash said. The legacy program remains in effect throughout the four years of schooling.

But enrollment is about more than just filling beds, he said.  

“We want to attract students who bring to life our campus and community and stay to graduate four years later,” Cash said.

There is a different pathway for students today. Less than 50 percent start and finish at one school, he said. The majority of students attend three schools before graduating. Degree completion is also low across the country.

An effort to selectively enroll those who are the right fit for UMF resulted in UMF “welcoming their most accomplished class so far” this fall, he said. Of the 540 admitted, 51 percent graduated from high school in the top 30 percent of their class, he said.

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