Reversing a steady, decade-plus decline, fall enrollment at the University of Maine System has increased.

Across all seven campuses, the fall 2016 headcount is 29,465 students, up 1.6 percent from last year, according to final figures released Thursday by the system. It’s the first annual increase in enrollment since 2003, when the head count at the seven-campus system peaked at 34,375 students.

Total credit hours and the calculation of full-time equivalent students also are in positive territory, according to the data, which was included in materials posted for the system trustees meeting in Machias on Nov. 13-14.

The system also saw a significant increase in out-of-state students, an important financial metric since those students pay about three times as much in tuition.

Systemwide, the out-of-state student headcount increased 8 percent for the year, to 5,172 students. That’s up 30 percent since fall 2012, according to the report.

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.


Out-of-state students now make up 30.5 percent of the student body in Orono. They make up 11 percent of the student body at the University of Southern Maine, the system’s second-largest college. USM has a housing shortage and announced Wednesday that it is pursuing an agreement to lease off-campus housing in Portland.

The enrollment report follows positive budget projections released earlier this year, that the system was forecasting a budget surplus in 2021, after years of multimillion deficits.

To close the budget gaps in recent years, the board of trustees voted to slash personnel, lay off tenured professors, cut undergraduate and graduate programs, and restructure the system to consolidate support services such as human resources, finance and information technology. The moves prompted student protests, including the takeover of a trustees meeting in 2014.

Elsewhere in the trustees packet, Chancellor James Page said the cost-saving measures have reduced costs by $80 million a year.

“Our hard work and tough choices over the past few years have aligned our universities in size and in structure with the times,” he wrote.

In the enrollment report, the system for the first time broke out how many students were actually high school students enrolled in early college programs, an increasingly popular option for Maine students. This fall, high school students in those programs, which are taught both on campus and at high schools, make up 9.3 percent of the undergraduate students.


At UMaine Fort Kent, which has a robust high school early college program, those students make up 40 percent of the campus headcount, and 20 percent of the full-time equivalent count.

However, those students do not directly contribute to the university system’s bottom line.

State money subsidizes the cost of early college programs. Under one program, any high school student can take up to 12 credits a year on a college campus or online for free, with the state reimbursing the college for half the tuition cost and the college waiving the other half. Students pay book or course fees, depending on the college’s program.


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 4:22 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2016, to correct the number of out-of-state students.


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