After saying it planned to increase tuition rates across the board, the University of Maine System said Friday it now expects to not raise in-state tuition increases that its trustees were poised to approve next week.
New funding in Gov. Janet Mills’ supplementary budget and high fall enrollment numbers will help keep in-state tuition rates flat, system officials said.
The tuition hikes would have raised rates for in-state and out-of-state students across the system’s seven universities and law school. University officials previously had said they were necessary due to inflation and the estimated $100 million in revenue the system has lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on Friday, they said in-state tuition increases were being reconsidered in light of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Maine residents.
The trustees will vote on a new budget in a special meeting before the end of June, system spokesperson Dan Demeritt said, though it first needs to go through the system’s finance committee.
Chancellor Dannel Malloy noted that Mainers had a lower household income than the rest of the New England region and that the increases could be a burden on families trying to get through the economic effects of the pandemic.
“I made the decision that this particular year is not the time to increase tuition for in-state students,” Malloy said.
University officials have made no final decision on altering the tuition increases for out-of-state students present in the original budget, Malloy said.
The university said millions of dollars in new funding provided to the system in Gov. Janet Mills’ supplemental biennial budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year could prevent a tuition raise for in-state students. Demeritt noted Friday that the supplemental budget, released a week after the trustees’ committee vote, would provide $6 million in new funding for the university system in the new fiscal year.
“This would not have been possible, I want to be very clear, without the governor putting us in that budget,” Malloy said.
Another reason for optimism is strong enrollment numbers for the fall semester: deposits for out-of-state, first-year and transfer students was 33 percent ahead of the past two years as of Wednesday, Demeritt said.
A board of trustees committee had approved the tuition increases in a May meeting — they were set to go before the full board on Monday as part of the fiscal year 2022 budget. But that vote will be postponed to give university leaders time to alter the budget to remove tuition increases for in-state students, Demeritt said.