The University of Southern Maine has increased its freshman retention rate, boosting the percentage of full-time students who returned this week as sophomores.

Just over 70 percent of last year’s freshmen are back as sophomores – 626 of 892 students – beating a previous retention rate of 68 percent.

USM President Selma Botman attributed the increase to new Student Success Centers, which consolidated various student services into one unit that focuses on retaining and graduating more students.

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