AUGUSTA — Maine’s community colleges are more affordable than ever this year, with no increase in tuition and fees and a significant increase in Maine State Grant aid available for qualifying students.

The Maine Community College System (MCCS) has long had the lowest tuition and fees of any college in New England. Tuition for the 2021-22 academic year remains at $96 a credit hour for Maine residents, so the standard 3-credit hour course is $288. A full-time student taking 15 credits each semester would pay annual tuition of $2,880.

Thanks to a $10 million increase in funding from the legislature this session, the Maine State Grant award has increased from $1,500 to $2,500 for full-time students and from $750 to $1,250 for half- or three-quarter time students. The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), which administers the Maine State Grant, has also extended the deadline for people to apply for the grant for the 2021-22 academic year.

“There’s never been a better time to pursue an education at one of Maine’s community colleges,” said MCCS President David Daigler. “Coming off a very hard year, when a lot of students put off going to college, this is exactly the kind of financial support and incentive needed to encourage students to pursue a college education.”

“We are very grateful that the Board of Trustees decided to not increase tuition and fees this year,” Daigler added.

In addition to keeping tuition and fees flat, the community colleges have new and expanded student support programs that include tutoring, tech support, tech equipment loans, counseling and job search assistance.

“Once you’re enrolled, there are many resources to help you succeed, but we know many students won’t apply because they think they can’t afford it,” Daigler said. “Maine’s community colleges are very affordable. A student working a minimum wage job just 25 hours a week over the summer can earn enough in those 10 weeks to cover their tuition and fees for the entire year.”

In fact, most MCCS students pay far less than full tuition and fees, without incurring any student loan debt. About 75 percent of full-time students at Maine’s community college receive some form of grant aid, and 50 percent of students get enough grant aid that they pay nothing for tuition and fees.

In addition to the Maine State Grant, many students qualify for a federal Pell Grant, which can not only completely cover the cost of tuition and fees, there is often enough grant aid left over to pay for books and other expenses. The average Pell Grant award for undergraduate students at a two-year college is more than $4,000.

Residents of other nearby New England states may be eligible for reduced out-of-state tuition, which is 150 percent of in-state tuition. Full-time, out-of-state students who do not qualify for the regional discount would pay approximately $5,760 per year, at $192 per credit hour.

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