Fall enrollment figures at the University of Maine System – critical data for the state’s financially struggling public higher education system – show a mixed performance, with a lower overall head count but significant increases at some campuses in out-of-state students, who pay much higher tuition.

Five of the seven campuses, including the two largest – the University of Maine in Orono and the University of Southern Maine – all show increases in out-of-state students. The highest are a 15 percent increase at the University of Maine at Augusta and 14 percent at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Other increases are 7 percent at Orono, 3 percent at Farmington and 2 percent at USM.

Chief Student Affairs Officer Rosa Redonnett said the increases are “an important financial boost” to the campuses.

At the flagship campus in Orono, in-state tuition and fees are about $10,606. Tuition and fees at USM are $8,540 a year. For out-of-state students, tuition and fees are about $30,000 per year.

The vast majority of the out-of-state students are at Orono, where they now make up 30 percent of the student body, or 3,157 out of 10,906 students.

Systemwide, 4,822 out-of-state students make up 17 percent of the overall student body.

Across all campuses, the fall 2015 head count is down 2.7 percent, from 29,325 students last fall to 28,529 students this fall.

In-state enrollment is down 4.2 percent, from 24,758 to 23,707 students, which didn’t surprise Redonnett.

“With fewer high school graduates and more competition from private and for-profit institutions, our in-state enrollment is consistent with our expectations,” she said.

Only the University of Maine at Farmington and UMaine Fort Kent showed increases in overall enrollment this fall.

At USM, which has 7,590 students in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston, overall enrollment is down 6.6 percent, a figure that new USM President Glenn Cummings is closely watching. At his inaugural staff welcome, he touted the enrollment numbers, which were an improvement over earlier estimates that fall enrollment could be down as much as 11 or 12 percent.

But Cummings noted that the number of new and transfer students is up slightly for both undergraduates and graduates. USM had 1,564 new undergraduate students this year, up 2 percent from last year, and 379 new graduate students, up 1 percent from last year.

“Maine students and their families expect affordable access to quality programs from our public universities,” Cummings said in a statement Friday. “Our modest increase in new enrolled students at USM this fall is just one of the promising developments we are seeing as our universities continue to focus on developing programs and delivering services that help our students succeed.”

The system has posted declining enrollment figures for years, which officials say is largely related to Maine’s demographics and the shrinking number of Maine high school graduates.

That drop in enrollment, paired with a tuition freeze since 2011, when state officials agreed not to cut higher education funding, has hurt the system financially.

The system’s $518 million budget that began in July uses $7 million in emergency funds despite cutting 206 positions systemwide. In the previous budget year, which ended June 30, the $529 million system budget required using $11.4 million in emergency funds and cutting 157 positions.

The current enrollment numbers are as of Sept. 8, the first day of class, but final official figures will not be released until Oct. 15, after the add-drop period has passed.

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