The number of first-time students putting down deposits to attend the University of Southern Maine this fall is up 34 percent over last year at this time, signaling a turnaround for a campus that has struggled to increase enrollment and improve its finances.

“There is a lot more work to do before we open for the fall semester, but we are thrilled with where we are right now,” said Nancy Griffith, vice president for enrollment management at USM.

Incoming students had a May 1 deadline to put down deposits to hold their place.

First-year student deposits at USM increased from 563 students a year ago to 756 this spring, and the combined first-year and transfer deposits increased 20 percent from 948 students to 1,134.

Griffith said new strategies to recruit students include enhanced financial aid packages, outreach to all college counselors in Maine and accelerated undergraduate programs that lead to graduate programs and the University of Maine School of Law.

“We are truly moving in a new direction,” Griffith said.

University of Maine enrollment, 2012-2016

Includes undergraduate and graduate programs. Roll over the columns to see detailed figures for each campus.

Last year, USM closed a projected $6 million budget gap and balanced its budget without any emergency funds from the University of Maine System for the first time in years.

Systemwide, fall 2017 enrollment deposits are up 3 percent, officials said. In-state student deposits are up 2 percent despite declining demographics that mean there are fewer graduating high school seniors every year.

At the University of Maine in Orono, the number of first-year and transfer students putting down deposits was up 2.7 percent, from 2,737 last year to 2,810 this year. First-year student deposits alone are up 2.2 percent.

“We are excited about our record-setting number of first-year student confirmations,” UMaine President Susan J. Hunter said. “These incoming students reflect the hard work required to meet the challenge of recruiting in a formidable climate, with declining demographics and strong competition for qualified applicants.”

UMaine officials said the May 1 deposits were up 12 percent for out-of-state students and 21 percent for international students.

UMaine has aggressively sought out-of-state students, who pay up to three times more than the in-state tuition and fees cost of about $10,000. The Orono campus also offered new financial aid packages and continued its popular “flagship match” tuition program, which allows students from nine targeted states to pay the same tuition they would pay at the flagship campuses in their home states.

Students at Maine’s public universities will face a tuition increase this fall for the first time in six years, if the trustees approve the average 2.6 percent increase at their May 22 meeting.

Griffith said USM has a 28 percent increase in deposits from in-state students. Out-of-state student deposits were up 15 percent, but international student deposits are down, she said.

Systemwide, deposits are up 3 percent, according to system officials. The smaller universities in the system tend to attract older, nontraditional students who usually enroll closer to the fall, officials said.

The university system as a whole is emerging from years of financial turmoil, making increasing enrollment and tuition revenue a top priority.

Over the last five years, the system has been sharply focused on cutting costs and increasing revenue, even as it faced declining enrollment amid a tuition freeze and a state funding freeze.