Residential and out-of-state students at the University of Southern Maine could be getting some relief in their wallets next year.

Making efforts to fill the residence halls in Gorham and increase enrollment across the board, USM will be offering reduced room rates and will seek approval from the University of Maine System Board of Trustees to freeze out-of-state tuition at 2011-2012 levels.

The board of trustees froze in-state tuition across all seven University of Maine schools at its meeting in January. But USM spokesperson Judie Alessi O’Malley said administrators at USM were immediately thereafter interested in freezing tuition rates for out-of-state undergraduates and in-state and out-of-state graduate students. Any freeze in graduate school tuition will not affect the University of Maine School of Law.

Dick Campbell, the top financial officer at USM, said the university is seeking the tuition freezes in order to help stem a decade-long decline in enrollment at USM.

“We felt that the best way to hopefully maintain affordability and to also put us in a better position to grow enrollment was to do this,” Campbell said. “Our hope is because it’s more affordable there will be more interest and thus more revenue.”

Residential enrollment has been in steep decline as well, with just under 950 students living on campus in Gorham this semester, down from around 1,000 in the fall. In addition to the reductions in room rates in Gorham, which do not require the board of trustees’ approval, the university will also be providing housing grants to transfer students living on campus — $1,200 for in-state students and $3,000 for out-of-state students.

Director of Residential Life Denise Nelson said the efforts to get more students living in the residence halls are not just about bringing more money to the university.

“I truly believe that students, especially first-year students, get a better experience living on-campus,” Nelson said. “It saddens me when students just drive to campus, go to classes and leave when they’re done. They’re paying the same but getting so much less.”

The amount of each discount will depend on what kind of dorm room students are living in. Students living in a four-bedroom apartment in Upperclass Hall will save $575 for the semester and $1,500 for the year, while students living in less expensive housing like a double in Robie Andrews Hall will save $264 for the semester and $528 for the year.


  1.  It saddens me to think about the amount of money the University wants to take from me for on-campus living, when even with all my expenses combined, I don’t even spend half of it living off campus, in an apartment, commuting from 30 minutes away.

    • And thats why you will have a successful future, because you are doing the math now and not when your loans are due.

      • I completely agree. One family member had said that I was missing out on the “college experience.” Maybe I am in some ways, but the “college experience” doesn’t get you a career after you graduate, your education does and that is what I am going to school for, so anyway I can save money, I do.

        • That family member probably has the mentality of a time when a degree was guaranteed success, now that the world has caught up with the trend of everyone going to college things like credit, capital in liquid form and  debt play a huge roll in who makes it and who lives with mom and dad. You can get that college experience during early retirement.

  2. I think living off campus is condusive to a two city campus. Riding the bus to Portland for classes is a big drag. My granddaugter in the nursing program lived on campus for the 1st two years and then moved to Portland as most of her classes are in Portland and she would be commuting back and forth between the towns. Living in Portland works the best for her.

  3. Checked out admissions for a variety of Maine school systems and confirmed that indeed, in nearly every public school system there are fewer students in 1st grade than in 10th, approx. 12% fewer. 

    That means in a few years, UMS will have fewer and fewer students in their admission’s pool and are planning to either expand–if they can, out of state and foreign admissions; or simply have empty dorm rooms and less revenue. 

  4. The unfortunate truth about the situation at USM is that it’s enrollment is declining not because of cost. USM is competing with other institutions and losing the battle – even against the Community College system, USM is struggling to be relevant as a viable choice in today’s education environment. They also had years of poor leadership – former President Dick Pattenaude left to become the Chancellor of the UM system after years of running deficits and declining enrollment – for that performance, he got a better job??? Currently, President Bottman has lost the confidence of her faculty, been unable to offer a solution to the ongoing bleeding, and will most likely move on soon. USM’s problems are systemic and fundamental. The residential campus is in the wrong community. Move it to Portland and you’ll see more residential students and you won’t have to lower prices. It would also bring in more out-of-state students – who wants to go to USM and live in Gorham (no offense to Gorham) and have the majority of your classes in Portland. Also, Portland offers the college aged crowd a better college town experience. There are a host of other issues that plaque USM, but until they face the reality of their condition and make some major changes they, they’ll continue to go down this road of poor performance.   


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