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Maine Online Colleges and Universities: Top Colleges for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018
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Students need to ask many important questions when researching online college degree programs. Many students want to know about cost of tuition and fees, state residency requirements, availability of financial aid and scholarships, and other concerns that ultimately drive their decisions when choosing a college. Other students, meanwhile, are more interested in finding the best or most affordable online colleges in the state. This guide provides in-depth answers to those questions and more. Students in Maine can use the information below to help guide them to the college that’s the perfect fit for their education and career goals.

Best Online Colleges in Maine: 2018

Students who want to attend college in Maine have several dozen options, from small community colleges to larger state colleges and private universities. The rankings below represent the best online colleges in Maine and were created by blending a wide range of important factors, such as tuition, acceptance rate, and more that were provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. For some students, they simply seek the best online colleges in Maine. Other students want to know about the most affordable online colleges in Maine.

Students should use the data below to help guide their decisions about finding an online college in Maine that works for them.

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 University of Maine Orono, ME 100.00 $8,370 12 86% 16:156%no yes yes
2 University of Maine at Machias Machias, ME 98.49 $6,600 3 96% 12:131%yes yes yes
3 University of Southern Maine Portland, ME 97.98 $6,578 8 73% 16:134%yes yes yes
4 University of Maine at Presque Isle Presque Isle, ME 97.40 $6,600 3 77% 15:130%yes yes yes
5 University of Maine at Fort Kent Fort Kent, ME 96.76 $6,600 5 54% 15:144%yes yes yes
6 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME 95.07 $6,510 11 33% 16:112%yes yes yes
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield, ME 100.00 $2,700 5 52% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 York County Community College Wells, ME 98.32 $2,700 3 44% 13:1N/Ayes yes yes

The growth of Online Colleges in Maine

Although Maine covers an area just over 30,000 square miles, the state was home to just 1.33 million people in 2016. Distance education is important tool for colleges and universities in the state to provide education to students in remote parts of the country’s easternmost state, and more colleges and universities are providing completely online degrees in Maine.

The largest postsecondary system in the state, the University of Maine System, had a total enrollment of just under 27,000 students in spring of 2017 between its seven universities. Distance education accounted for 20 percent of all credit hours delivered. Forty-five percent of students at UM at August were enrolled in distance-only education programs, while nearly a quarter of all graduate students at the system’s flagship campus at Orono were enrolled in online programs.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that there are 32 two- and four-year universities in Maine. The University of Maine Online offers two undergraduate degrees and 13 master’s-level degree programs. The university also offers two doctoral programs and 15 graduate certificates that can be completed online. All seven institutions in the Maine Community College System offer online classes, and there are four colleges that offer completely online associate degrees.

Paying for College in Maine

There’s a large disparity between the cost of in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition fees at colleges and universities in Maine. Out-of-state students pay 178 percent higher costs than their in-state peers. Students who wish to receive in-state tuition rates at postsecondary institutions in Maine must have established a domicile and lived in the state for one year for purposes other than attending college prior to registration. Non U.S. citizens cannot receive in-state tuition rates since they cannot have established a domicile in Maine. Transfer students who paid in-state tuition in another state must normally wait a semester before attaining Maine residency.

Here’s a look at average tuition costs at public four-year universities in Maine for the 2016-2017 school year:

In-state tuition: $9,186

Out-of-state tuition: $25,598

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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Do online college students in Maine pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

The good news for distance learners researching Maine colleges is that out-of-state students who enroll in online programs may not have to shoulder hefty out-of-state tuition costs. They may, however, pay higher rates than in-state residents at some Maine postsecondary institutions.

For instance, online students at University of Maine in Augusta pay 125 percent higher tuition costs. Instead of $228 per credit hour, distance learners outside of the state of Maine pay $285 per credit hour for tuition. Students enrolled in distance-only programs at University of Southern Maine, meanwhile, pay about half of what out-of-state students pay, but their costs still are 24 percent higher than students paying in-state tuition. These costs are for 100-percent online programs; students taking enrolled in hybrid programs that also attend on-campus classes may be charged different rates.

Students in New England states (Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island) qualify for reduced tuition under the New England Regional Student Program (RSP). Students are eligible for tuition discounts in these six states if they enroll in an approved major that’s not offered by a public university in their home state. At the University of Maine, tuition and fees for RSP students are 35 percent higher than in-state costs, but still much less than out-of-state tuition.

Quick summary on tuition costs in Maine:
  • 1. Students enrolled in online programs pay lower tuition costs than out-of-state students.

  • 2. Tuition for distance-only programs at many Maine colleges is roughly 25 to 35 percent higher than in-state costs.

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How do I apply for financial aid in Maine?

Students who are legal residents of the United States and wish to apply for federal financial aid must fill out and submit a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the ground-floor step in receiving grants or loans for tuition – and it’s important to pay close attention to deadlines. The following FAFSA deadlines apply to all college students in Maine for the 2018-2019 academic year:

  • Federal deadline: June 30. Corrections must be submitted by mid-September.

  • State deadline: May 1

  • College deadline: Inquire with prospective colleges regarding FAFSA deadlines

That last step is crucial – colleges typically have priority deadlines to submit paperwork to be considered for maximum federal student aid eligibility. Students do not have to be accepted at an online college in Maine to apply for federal financial aid.

Students who need help with completing a FAFSA can turn to the Finance Authority of Maine, which holds in-person help sessions throughout the state in the month of October, as well as online help.

Students who are not residents of the United States in some instances can qualify for federal student aid by meeting certain criteria.

All students who receive federal financial aid must keep their grades up and complete a certain number of classes to maintain eligibility. All colleges and universities in the U.S. monitor students who receive federal financial assistance to ensure they are staying on track with their studies using a set of criteria commonly known as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Students who fail to meet SAP requirements are placed in financial aid suspension or probationary status.

Here are the SAP criteria to remain eligible for federal student aid in Maine:

  • GPA

    Maine uses the following scale for qualitative measurement of grade point average:

    • 1.5 for 15.99 or fewer credits
    • 1.6 for 16-29.99 credits
    • 1.7 for 30-59.99 credits
    • 1.8 for 60-89.99 credits
    • 1.9 for 90 or more credit hours earned
  • Credits completed

    Maine uses the following criteria for quantitative measurement of credits attempted:

    • 50% for 23.99 or fewer credits
    • 55% for 24-53.99 credits
    • 62% for 54-83.99 credits
    • 67% for 84 or more credits
  • Max credit loads

    There are limits on the amount of coursework the federal government will help pay for. They are:

    • 180 for first bachelor’s
    • 45 for second bachelor’s
    • 104 for master’s
    • 113 for doctorate degrees

Students also must submit a FAFSA for every year in which they wish to receive federal financial aid.

College Scholarships & Grants in Maine

Aside from federal tuition assistance or Pell grants, there are numerous scholarships available for students who wish to enroll in or are attending affordable online colleges in Maine. Many of these scholarships are intended for residents of Maine, while others are from private organizations in the state of Maine. The section below highlights scholarships open to college students in Maine, as well as how to apply for them.

What scholarships and grants can I apply for?

Student can’t be awarded scholarships if they don’t apply for them. Use the following information to help find scholarships in Maine, and apply to all that seem a good fit:

  • Finance Authority of Maine. FAME has a comprehensive scholarship search tool on its Web site.

  • Maine Community Foundation. The Maine Community Foundation provides more than $2 million in scholarships to residents attending accredited colleges, universities and technical schools

  • Scholarships.com. This site lists an aggregate of many of the scholarships available to college students in Maine.

  • Maine Department of Education. The Maine DOE offers a few resources not already mentioned here to help students find ways to pay for college.

How do I apply for Maine scholarships and grants?

After using the resources above to find scholarships and grants in Maine, the next step is applying for them.

For many scholarships, students must inquire with a scholarship representative about application guidelines. Most scholarships have strict applications deadlines, as well as other important criteria students must satisfy for award consideration. Some scholarships are based on academic merit, others are based on a particular field of study such as engineering or the arts, while some are gender-based or for people with disabilities.

Most award committees want to see students’ high school or college transcripts, ACT scores, and residency documentation. Many ask applicants to pen a personal essay or provide letters of recommendation from respected sources such as college professors or employers. Pay attention to all the requested requirements, and try to submit early rather than at the end of the application window.

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Finding the Maine Online College That’s Right for You

Finding the right online college in Maine depends on many different factors. Students who want to keep costs down might focus solely on tuition costs, while others are more interested in the quality of the programs offered and the college’s regional and national reputation for excellence.

We polled students from across the state of Maine to find out what’s most important to them when researching colleges. The questions below are three of their most pressing concerns.

Which Maine colleges accept transfer credits and work/life experience?

A. Colleges and universities in Maine accept both transfer credit and credit for prior learning, which is knowledge gained through work, military or life experience.

The Maine Community College System suggests students contact an admissions representative at the college in which they are interested to determine credit equivalencies. The MCCS also has transfer agreements with the University of Maine system and other postsecondary institutions in Maine and across the U.S. Students in the system transferred to more than 230 postsecondary institutions in a three-year period.

For the University of Maine System, students can transfer courses in which they earned a C or better grade at an accredited postsecondary institution. The UM System has developed a transfer equivalency tool to help students know which credits are accepted at colleges in the system. It also has a transfer guide for all institutions in the UM system. In all cases, students should contact a transfer adviser at their receiving institution to help determine how previously earned credits or work experience applies to their degree program.

I live in Maine —do I have to pick an online college in Maine?

Distance learners aren’t bound by geography — online students in Maine can enroll in colleges and universities across the U.S. Students who started their academic journey in Maine might be better served attending a postsecondary institution in the state, however, since the state’s main university and college systems have transfer agreements in place to facilitate easy transfer. Research all options before setting on an affordable online college in a given state.

How do I pick an online college in Maine?

Searching for the best online college in Maine can be exhausting. Tackling the search in small steps can help students easily narrow down their choices and find a college that’s right for them.

First, students should determine which factors are most important in a prospective college, such as cost of tuition, reputation, accreditation, faculty-to-student ratio, programs offered and other criteria. Then rank those factors in order of importance. Once students have their lists, they can use the search tool below to compare online colleges in Maine and filter out schools that don’t meet their criteria.

Don’t forget to call school admissions counselors as well. These employees can provide expert advice and insight into their institutions, as well as help with financial aid and scholarships. Lastly, the Maine College Admissions Association provides links to most of Maine’s public and private institutions to help quickly connect students to admissions counselors at their prospective colleges.