The price of attending University of Maine System schools is about to go up.

A 2023-24 budget adopted Monday calls for a 3% tuition increase for in-state students starting this fall, as well as additional price hikes for room and board and higher student fees. Tuition also will rise for out-of-state students, although the increases will vary among the different campuses.

The system’s board of trustees passed the budget unanimously with one abstention. The vote came after the system looked at every possible way to tighten its belt and maximize revenue before looking toward tuition, board chair Trish Riley said.

“The work that went on before we reached the conclusion to raise tuition was significant,” Riley said.

Passage of the budget comes against the backdrop of a slow-burning crisis for the state’s university system. Enrollments have been declining significantly and steadily for years, leading to drops in tuition revenue. At the same time, costs have been rising because of inflation and other financial pressures, such as the need to renovate buildings.

Board members also voted Monday to adopt a five-year strategic plan designed to stabilize the system’s falling enrollment and revenues, and expand academic research and business partnerships.


Between fall 2013 and fall 2022, system enrollment decreased by 17 percent or 5,000 students. Because tuition makes up about 47 percent of the system’s revenue, the decline in enrollment has been a significant and consistent hit to the system’s financial health. Moreover, enrollment is expected to continue to decline.

In addition to tuition increases, the system’s new budget also calls for increases in fees for technology, student health and fitness, and unified accreditation. Total fee increases range from $30 to $809 depending on the campus. Room and board rates will go up between 1.9% and 10.3% or between $200 to $1,000, also depending on the campus.

The UMaine System last increased tuition systemwide in 2021, raising it 2.5%. Tuition has been held flat seven of the last 10 years, a UMaine System spokesperson said.

While in-state tuition increases will be consistent across campuses, out-of-state students will see tuition increases ranging from 2.9% to 9.3% percent, depending on the campus.

The budget calls for the annual overall cost of attending a UMaine System school to increase between $508 to $1,562 for an in-state student, topping out at $25,000 for UMaine Orono students, and $255 to $3,242 for an out-of-state student, topping out at $47,742 for UMaine.

The budget also calls for the system to slim down through attrition – leaving positions of departed staff and faculty unfilled. And it seeks to increase dining hall and room and board revenue by recruiting more on-campus students.


Despite this grim outlook for the near future, system leaders said they are hopeful they will be able to maintain robust programming and create a sustainable financial future for the system and its schools.

They laid out their plans for doing so in a two-years-in-the-making, 20-page strategic plan for 2023-28. The plan was passed by the board unanimously with one abstention Monday.

The plan is the first strategic plan to be passed since 2004 and the first to be passed under unified accreditation. Unified accreditation allows the system to be accredited as a whole rather than requiring each campus to obtain and maintain all the resources needed for accreditation. The system won unified accreditation in 2021.

In an effort to create a financially sustainable university system for the state of Maine, the plan calls for the system to leverage its unified accreditation to use resources efficiently, work across campuses to provide opportunities and create cost savings and work to create a sustainable and transparent school system with a wide range of opportunities to attract both in-person and online learners. It also calls for each of the system’s seven universities and the Law School to develop individual goals for retention, enrollment, research, and economic and workforce development by Oct. 1.

The UMaine System is far from the only institution of higher education to struggle financially in recent years. Institutes of higher education around the country, especially public colleges and universities, are struggling to stay afloat, and in response are raising costs of attendance and eliminating resources, programs and full-time faculty.

The public university systems in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and West Virginia are just a few of those that have announced in the past few months that they are facing significant budget shortfalls.

The causes for the significant deficits are many of the same cited by the UMaine System: inflation, declining enrollment and tuition freezes. The solutions suggested are also the same: reduction in employee numbers, consolidating programs and increasing tuition.

In addition to those methods, UMaine System leaders said they hope to build up programs and increase enrollment by marketing the UMaine System in Maine and around the country, reaching out directly to students who may not be considering college to offer them attendance, growing its research program and subsequent competitiveness to outside funding, working closely with Maine businesses and organizations, increasing internship opportunities, and closely tracking how these initiatives are impacting the system.

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