The University of Maine System’s board of trustees will vote on a tuition increase next week that would increase costs to students at varying rates across its eight universities.
University officials say the increases are necessary to contend with the cost of inflation and salary raises for staff over the past few years. The university system also has lost about $100 million in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the pandemic led to decreased earnings, including from lower occupancy in dorms, fewer meal plans and the cancelation of numerous events. It also has paid for COVID-19 testing and other efforts to prevent the spread of the virus on campus.
University of Maine undergraduates taking 30 credits a year should expect to pay about $550 more in tuition and mandatory fees annually, while out-of-state students will pay about $1,050 more. New England students enrolled under a New England Board of Higher Education regional student program will pay about $2,400 more.
That would bring the total annual cost for in-state undergraduate students living on campus and taking 15 credits a semester to about $26,772. For out-of-state students, the annual cost would be $48,072 while for a student in a New England Board of Higher Education program it would be $35,142, according to a cost model posted on UMaine’s website for the 2020-2021 year.
It is the university system’s first tuition increase since 2020, when students across the system saw inflation-related increases in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year.
University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy said he understands the concerns from students about tuition increases, especially amid the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet, the college system is not immune from these effects of COVID-19 either: it also needs to contend with the increasing costs of goods and services, Malloy said. There have also been several salary increases across the system that need to be balanced.
“We don’t do this lightly,” Malloy said. “But the reality is that our costs are going up — it’s not like we are banking this money.”
In addition, his college system continues to be the least expensive in New England, Malloy said, with each of the eight universities also ranking high in students leaving with little debt.
The trustees’ Finance, Facilities, Technology Committee approved the changes in a meeting on May 3. It is set to come across the full board on Monday as part of the approval of the fiscal year 2022 budget.
In-state graduate students at UMaine will see an increase of about $700 in tuition and fees if they are taking 18 credits a year, while out-of-state students will see a $1,100 increase. University of Maine School of Law students will not see any tuition increase at all. New England Board of Higher Education students will see an $1,900 increase.
An in-state undergraduate student at the University of Maine at Machias taking 30 credits will have to pay about $900 more in tuition and mandatory fees, about an 11 percent increase. Out-of-state students undergraduates will pay about $1,100 more and New England Board of Higher Education students about $1,000 more.
Though the rate increased by more than $40 per credit for each group, most of the change comes from an effort by the university system to simplify billing by incorporating several campus-based fees into students’ tuition cost.
In-state and out-of-state graduate and undergraduate students at most of the other schools in the system, including the University of Maine at Augusta, University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Maine at Farmington and University of Southern Maine, will see tuition increases around 2.5 percent.
While in-state UMaine undergraduate students will see a 29 percent increase in tuition costs (from $308 per credit to $398), a significant chunk of the tuition increase will be offset by a $2,158 reduction in the college’s mandatory fee.
Fifteen out of the 16 members of the board of trustees are appointed by Maine’s governor and approved by the Legislature. Maine’s education commissioner, currently Pender Makin, also serves on the board.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the last time the University of Maine System increased tuition.