PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Southern Maine’s nursing students have a shot at a new scholarship thanks to a $500,000 gift, and others could have the chance to study abroad in Iceland.

USM President Glenn Cummings made the announcements Thursday in front of more than 500 students and staff during the school’s annual opening breakfast.

The scholarship gift comes from the Boyne Foundation, named for the late Dr. Phillip J. Boyne, a Houlton native, dentist and oral surgeon. The money will provide scholarships to nursing students interested in providing care to elderly people living in areas with limited health care options.

During the breakfast, university officials also signed a memorandum of understanding between Iceland’s Reykjavik University and USM. The document formally recognizes an ongoing partnership between the universities that launched earlier this year.

In addition to continuing a student exchange program, the universities will offer visiting professorships, internships and other connections.

“In Iceland, we really need to have a strong connection to the United States to give our students the opportunity to study here, to get experiences here and to bring back the know-how, the drive and the energy that really characterizes the United States,” Ari Jonsson, Reykjavik University’s rector, said.

USM has been pushing to move past recent financial struggles and controversial faculty and program cuts that followed. Things are beginning to turn around, Cummings said, with applications up 14 percent from the school year before, which translated to a 6 percent admittance increase and a 3 percent enrollment hike. The 2016-2017 school year begins next week.

“This is the first time in four years that we have had a completely balanced budget, and we’re heading in an even better direction in the coming year,” Cummings said.