MANCHESTER — The last time Scott Berry took a college computer course, it was 1982 and computer programs then were stored on punch cards.

This spring, he took a computer course online at the University of Maine at Augusta, where he plans to graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Berry, 53, works as a facility director for a regional behavioral health agency. He says a college diploma is a personal goal, but it could also help him find another job at some point in the future.

“You can’t really sit down and talk with somebody unless you have a piece of paper these days,” he said.

Berry received a $1,000 annual scholarship from a fund created by the University of Maine System a year ago to help adult Mainers return to college to complete their degrees. Recipients may qualify for as much as $4,000 per year in scholarships for up to four years.

Currently, there are very few scholarships or other financial aid available in Maine for adults, especially those who work full time. The new scholarships are for adult students returning to a university after an absence of three years or more, and are completing their very first baccalaureate degree. Courses may be taken at any of the seven universities in the UMaine System.

Berry earned his associate degree from the University of Southern Maine in 1983, but decided to look for adventures out West rather than go on to a four-year degree.

Today, he’s a lot more self-assured than he was as a young man, he said.

“I feel more confident, and I’m able to handle the workload way better than when I was young,” he said.

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