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Smaller University of Maine branches offer free tuition to students

University of Maine at Augusta (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Students heading to college at some UMaine campuses next fall could find themselves not having to pay a dime.

The university is announcing free tuition if students qualify for Pell Grants.

University leaders are calling this the Pine Tree Pledge. It's an effort to increase graduation rates and reduce student debt.

Starting in fall 2018, any student admitted to the University of Maine at Augusta and qualify for federal Pell Grants will have the remainder of their tuition covered by UMaine.

The pledge was started at the UMaine Presque Isle campus before expanding to Augusta, Machias and Fort Kent.

Officials say they hope it will draw more Maine students to their system's smaller campuses and make education more accessible in rural areas.

“We are hoping that we'll have a greater local impact because we can touch so many areas of the state,” Jonathan Henry, University of Maine at Augusta, said.

They also plan to bring the program to their satellite campuses, which spread form Bangor to Saco, which will help part-time and commuter students as well.

"Get them to the finish line, get them to that credential because it will not only improve their own personal lives, but it has a greater impact collectively on our state of Maine economy,” Henry said.

Officials say applying for this is as easy as filling out your regular financial aid form and say it will be opened up to transfer students this January.

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