Students at Maine’s elite math and science magnet school can earn an associate degree while in high school under a new agreement with the University of Maine Presque Isle.

The program will allow the high school students at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone to be awarded an Associate of Art degree upon graduation, officials at both schools said Friday. The high school is regularly recognized as one of the top in the nation.

The latest U.S. News & World Report ranking said MSSM was the 13th best public high school in the nation and the third-best magnet school in the nation.

University officials said they reached the agreement after reviewing the high school’s curriculum and finding it equivalent in content and rigor to UMPI courses and faculty qualifications. MSSM students who successfully complete Multivariable Calculus, for example, will receive college credit for the equivalent course at UMPI, Math 231.

“This is the next step in the ever important journey of meeting students where their ability is at and giving them proper credit and recognition for those who are achieving at the collegiate level,” Luke Shorty, executive director of the high school, said in a statement.

To earn the associate degree, students must take certain courses at the high school. They would be charged $15 per credit hour, so a 64-credit Associate’s degree would cost $960, compared to paying two years of tuition and fees at UMPI, or about $16,000.

Tuition at the public residential high school is free, but room and board costs $8,450 a year.

Acting Maine Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin praised the agreement.

“With the rising cost of college and the huge student debt burden our young people are facing, it is such great news that more Maine students will now have the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, not only saving them money but giving them a great advantage over their peers,” Desjardin said in a statement.


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