In the far corner of the country, Maine is definitely a place to “get away” for a college student. The Pine Tree State was home to 43 universities, colleges and career schools in 2013, making it 40th in the nation for the number of colleges within its borders. That same year, 95,500 students took advantage of higher education opportunities in Maine, which made it 43rd in the nation for student volume.
Colleges in Maine offer undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, as well as continuing education, available in a traditional classroom, through online education, or a hybrid of both. Maine features a wide variety of options, including religious institutions, community and junior colleges, public and private four-year universities, and online colleges.
|College Type||Number in Maine|
|Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation)||13|
|Private not-for-profit (religious affiliation)||2|
Where to Get a College Education in Maine
For its relatively small population, Maine is home to some surprisingly sizable towns, as well as tiny hamlets that offer peaceful, serene living. Colleges might be found in urban areas, or in the smaller towns, where education is a short drive away. Here is how the college landscape shapes up in Maine:
Most Popular Cities for College Students (Total)
- South Portland (11,100)
- Portland (10,200)
- Orono (10,000)
- Bangor (7,500)
- Augusta (6,800)
Cities with the Most Colleges (Total)
- Bangor (6)
- Portland (4)
- Lewiston (4)
- South Portland (2)
- Waterville (2)
City in Focus: Portland’s Higher Education Landscape
Portland, Maine is a small coastal city in southeastern Maine. With a population approaching 70,000, it is also the state’s largest city. It has won a host of awards for its amazing seafood, great outdoor activities and family-friendly atmosphere. The city was also named one of the Top 20 Best Small Cities for College Students by the American Institute for Economic Research.
Because of its small size, Portland is home to just four colleges and universities. However, from arts to law school to liberal studies, there’s no shortage of educational opportunities in this small metropolitan area. University of Maine, which has a law school in Portland, was ranked among the top universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. It is the state’s only law school and with an enrollment of less than 300, students benefit from small class sizes and individualized attention. Students at the University of Southern Maine have similar benefits. Listed in 2012 as one of the Best in the Northeast by The Princeton Review, nearly half of the college’s classes accommodate less than 20 students. USM offers more than 115 areas of study and more than 100 student organizations. Professional opportunities for continuing education are also available to the professional, lifelong learner.
Where to Find Online Education Opportunities
Busy professionals and those living on the outskirts of town benefit from distance learning opportunities. USM provides online degrees and certificate programs year-round. Applied Technical leadership and organizational studies, communication and business administration are just a few of the bachelor’s degrees students can earn fully online. The University of New England, recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Top Colleges in 2013, offers eight graduate certificates, nine master’s degrees and a doctorate that can be completed entirely online.
Online Learning in Maine
Distance learning was once considered an alternative to traditional education, but today, online education has been embraced by many brick-and-mortar universities and colleges. In fact, 10 four-year colleges in Maine offered online learning in 2013, hosting everything from the occasional class to full-length programs that culminated in a degree or certificate. Learn more about distance learning opportunities in Maine via the list below. Each entry explains the college’s online education options with focus on how they work and why they offer value.
What Does College Cost in Maine?
No matter what the state, college costs can be substantial. In-state residents who chose to attend college in Maine in 2012 paid an average of $13,335 per year in tuition, making Maine 35th in the nation for the cost of college tuition. Keep in mind that the tuition can vary greatly depending upon the location, school, program and student residency – those who reside outside the state are likely to pay more in tuition than in-state students do.
In addition to tuition, fees also come into play when planning finances for a college education. Fees might include everything from use of recreational facilities to parking, depending upon the school. Maine students paid an average of $14,700 per student per year in fees in 2012. When added to the average tuition, the typical student paid $15,140 per school year to attend college in the state.
Finally, there is room and board to consider, as well as other living expenses. These costs can add up quickly, so it pays to know what the cost of living is like in a particular state. Maine has a cost of living approximately 16 percent higher than the rest of the nation. The chart below lists what students can expect for the cost of living (COL) in various areas of the state, with the national average shown as 100%.
One other very important financial aspect of Louisiana higher education is room and board, as well as other necessary living expenses. The state of Louisiana has a cost of living that is approximately 4 percent lower than the national average. In the table below, the national average cost of living (COL) is shown as 100%, and the cost of living in Louisiana’s major metro areas is listed in comparison.
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
Every college hopeful analyze financial metrics (tuition, fees, cost of living) should also consider return on investment (ROI). ROI looks at the ability of a graduate of a certain college to secure a decent salary after graduation. The following list represents the schools in Maine with the highest lifetime ROI figures:
- Bates College
- University of New England
- Colby College
- University of Maine at Orono
- Bowdoin College
Scholarships and Financial Aid for Maine Students
College can definitely be expensive, but there’s good news: Funds from federal, state and local sources can make the cost more manageable. Students should always start with federal financial aid by filling out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This very important form can help determine eligibility for a college student in any state in the U.S., and could result in federal funds, courtesy of Uncle Sam. In Maine, 64 percent of undergraduate students received some form of federal funds in 2012.
Once federal assistance is established, students can then move to other sources of financing for their college education. Help might be available on the state level. Colleges and universities often offer their own scholarships, grants and other assistance for enrolled students. Those in Maine might also find funding from a variety of organizations, including religious institutions, nonprofits, private companies and even local governments. Below is a short listing of some places that may offer financial assistance to Maine students:
- Seacoast Artist Association
- New England Direct Marketing Association
- Maine Skating Club
- The A.V. Stout Fund
- Boston Flower Exchange
- Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
- Guy P. Gannett Foundation
- Maine State Legislature
- Maine Metal Products Association
- Main State Chamber of Commerce
- Rainbow Business and Professional Association
Why Does Accreditation Matter?
In order to receive financial funds from the federal government, students must attend a college that has been accredited. Those who intend to transfer credits might find that only courses from accredited schools are accepted. Students might also need a degree from an accredited college in order to be taken seriously in their future profession.
Accreditation means that the college or university has met the basic standards of education set forth by the accrediting body, proving that the education is on a par with other schools in the state, region and nation. Students curious about accreditation in Maine should check out the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (https://www.neasc.org/).
Accreditation matters for students who want to receive financial assistance; federal funds are only released to schools that have current accreditation. In addition, most colleges only accept transfer credits from accredited schools, and some employers rarely consider applicants who graduate from programs that are not accredited. These are all excellent reasons to verify that the chosen school holds accreditation in good standing. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the primary accrediting body for educational institutions in Kentucky (http://www.sacscoc.org/).
More About Attending College in Maine
There are many things to consider when planning to attend college. This guide is meant to help students who plan to attend college in Maine as they research where they might find the best fit, what to expect from tuition and cost of living, how to pay for it all, and whether they should choose an online education, traditional classroom setting, or a hybrid of both. To learn more about individual colleges and universities in Maine, especially those that offer online education of some sort, please take a look at the listings below.
AC Online: Ranking the Most Affordable Online Colleges in Maine
Maine possesses some of the strongest online distance learning programs in the country. Students seeking a degree from an accredited four-year school, but need the flexibility of distance learning, can take advantage of these fully online schools in Maine. Online students still benefit from exceptional professors and tuition assistance, and can even earn identical degrees as those granted on-campus. But, with online programs in Maine, students have the convenience that comes with distance learning. These programs have an array of degrees and certifications available. We’ve compiled a list of all of the best fully online colleges in Maine, ranked from lowest tuition to highest for value comparison. All of these Maine online colleges offer an exceptional education.Click here to see our methodology.