URock leaders announce program to reduce student debt

Oct 12, 2017
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle University College Acting Dean Brenda McAleer, left, visits URock Oct. 12. With her is student Marissa Heal of Rockland.

Rockland — Eligible students qualifying for federal Pell grants will not pay any out-of-pocket expenses for tuition under a new effort launched by the University of Maine at Augusta and eight of the state's University College centers, including University College at Rockland (URock).

The goal is to help students reduce their debt as they seek higher education, according to URock Director Deborah Meehan.

She noted that the prospect of debt from college loans deters some young people from seeking a college degree. Others are choosing to live at home, keep working and attend classes at local colleges such as URock rather than staying in dorms on college campuses at a much higher cost.

The new program, called The Pine Tree State Pledge, will begin in 2018.

It will be available to some transfer students starting in spring 2018 and to new in-state, first-time full-time students in fall 2018.

Students must be eligible to receive federal Pell grants as part of the financial aid package for the academic year.

Since Pell grants do not always cover all of the costs of going to college, this program covers the gap between those grants and the actual cost, according to university leaders.

Meehan said as many as 80 percent of URock students are eligible for Pell grants. She also added that the college's tuition is more affordable to begin with, and the eligibility is income-based, to help students in need.

"This is an investment in yourself," she said of students seeking bachelor's degrees through the college. Those with four-year degrees earn on average $1 million more during their lifetimes than those with just a high school diploma, she said.

URock serves about 500 students. It started in 1976 in Rockland and has been at its present location in the Breakwater Marketplace on Camden Street in Rockland since 2007.

For more information, contact UMA Admissions at 877-862-1234, or visit uma.edu/pinetreestatepledge. More information is also available about local opportunities at urock.maine.edu, or at the college offices, 91 Camden St.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.