Online Colleges in Maine
Top Online Programs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Maine's unemployment rate was 3.4% in November 2018, just below the national average. Demand for workers in the state has not yet translated into higher earnings, however: Maine's average salary trails the rest of the nation by roughly $5,000.
Students in Maine can pursue a variety of online degrees, whether at private schools like Saint Joseph's College in Standish or at public institutions like the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Through the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) Tuition Break program, students can also receive discounted tuition at online programs in neighboring states.
This page provides an overview of online colleges in Maine, including information on the job outlook for workers with college degrees, the cost of pursuing postsecondary education in the state, and financial aid opportunities.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Maine
Maine's Center for Workforce Research and Information projects that the fields of healthcare and information technology should see the strongest growth through 2026. Computer and mathematical occupations, for example, will grow approximately 6.3%, while healthcare practice occupations will grow roughly 8.9%. Healthcare support roles should outpace all other occupations, with a projected growth rate of 9.2% during that period.
Given that many of these careers require some form of postsecondary education, students who attend accredited online colleges in Maine should enjoy above-average job prospects. For example, the state will need more than 1,600 new registered nurses by 2026, with most employers preferring to hire candidates with at least an associate degree in nursing.
Jobs that require a college degree usually offer better salaries as well. In Maine, the average registered nurse earned $65,890, well above the average salary of $45,300 for all other occupations in the state. As they generally require a bachelor's degree, positions in information technology can pay even more. For example, the average software developer in Maine earned $87,940 in 2017.
An advanced degree can also help unlock higher levels of compensation. Nurse practitioners in Maine earn, on average, just over $100,000 per year and must hold a master's degree to qualify for these roles.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in Maine
Most colleges and universities charge similar tuition rates, regardless of whether students study online or in-person. Distance learners, however, may avoid certain expenses, like the cost of commuting to campus or paying for room and board. In addition, some schools may waive fees associated with campus activities for online students, though they may instead charge these students a technology fee to cover the cost of maintaining their online learning platforms.
The cost of attending two- and four-year institutions in Maine is close to the national average. If you plan to earn a bachelor's and want to save more money, consider completing general education coursework at a two-year college first. Students attending Maine community colleges online pay significantly less and can easily transfer their credits to one of the state's public colleges or universities after graduating. Completing general education requirements at a two-year institution can save you more than $12,000 in total tuition and fees.
You should also be sure to research financial aid opportunities. Below, you can read more about scholarship and grants available to both Maine residents and students pursuing a degree in the state.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Maine
Most states offer significant tuition discounts to residents. For example, a student living in Maine pays just over $10,000 per year to attend one of the state's public colleges or universities, while out-of-state students may pay up to $27,000 per year to attend the same institution.
If you live in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont, you may qualify for reduced tuition through the NEBHE Tuition Break program. During the 2016-17 academic year, roughly 82 colleges and universities offered more than $60 million in tuition discounts to New England residents.
To qualify for the Tuition Break program, you must live in a New England state for at least one year prior to enrollment. You must also attend a participating institution and select an eligible program of study. You can review the online directory of partner schools and approved programs on the NEBHE website.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Maine
Before researching any other forms of financial support, be sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government uses the information your FAFSA to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC). The EFC determines whether you qualify for federal grants, work-study jobs, or low-interest student loans. Maine also uses your EFC to determine your eligibility for its own need-based offerings, such as the State of Maine Grant Program.
You can apply for aid from private organizations as well. The Maine Community Foundation, for example, provides scholarships to students seeking graduate degrees in mental health and adults looking to complete their degrees after a prolonged absence.
While you do not need to pay back any money you receive from scholarships, grants, or work-study earnings, you may be required to pay back all of your student loans with interest. If you work at a government agency or nonprofit organization for at least 10 years after graduation, you may qualify for federal loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Maine College Students
Many private organizations and companies provide scholarships to Maine college students. You should look for programs that match your personal background and professional ambitions. For example, if you plan to pursue teaching, you should consider scholarships that support students committed to becoming educators.
Who Can Apply: The State of Maine Grant Program provides need-based aid to students pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree. Students simply need to complete the FAFSA by May 1 to be considered for the grant.
Who Can Apply: The Alfond Leaders Program offers student loan repayment assistance to Maine residents majoring in fields related to science, technology, engineering, or math. Students may qualify for repayment of up to half of their total loan debt.
Amount: Not to exceed $60,000
Who Can Apply: Students planning to work in education or childcare can apply to this forgivable student loan program. Applicants must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 and submit an essay.
Amount: Up to $3,000 annually
Who Can Apply: This state program provides aid to the children of Maine firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical services providers who died in the line of duty. Eligible students receive funding by submitting a notarized application.
Who Can Apply: The Maine Community Foundation (MCF) administers this scholarship to support students seeking a graduate degree in mental health. MCF gives priority to students who plan to work in community mental health after graduation.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship pays for up to half of a recipient's tuition at either the Tufts University School of Medicine or the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. Students can receive funding for up to four years.
Amount: Up to $25,000 per year
Who Can Apply: Maine's Garden Club Federation offers this scholarship to students interested in pursuing a degree in horticulture, forestry, ecology, or a related discipline. The Federation makes award decisions based on academic merit, personal character, and financial need.
Who Can Apply: Any graduating high school senior in Maine who plans to study civil engineering can apply for this scholarship. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic performance, extracurricular activities, and their statement of professional interest.
Who Can Apply: Every first-year and in-state student attending the University of Maine receives at least a $1,000 scholarship. Students can qualify for other awards as well, such as the university's $8,000 presidential scholarship.
Best Majors for Online Students in Maine
Maine's Center for Workforce Research and Information projects continued decline in employment levels for production, farming, and sales occupations through 2026. Students still deciding on a major should consider avoiding careers in these areas, as they may experience difficulty finding work after graduation.
As mentioned earlier, Maine's fastest growing fields are healthcare and information technology. In addition to studying nursing, college students majoring in healthcare administration and management information systems should enjoy above-average job prospects and impressive earning potential.
For example, medical and health services managers in Maine earned an average salary of $91,280 in 2017, well above both the state and national average for all other occupations. Computer and information systems managers earned even more, with an average salary of $116,120 in that same year. Both of these roles require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, though some employers may prefer to hire candidates with a master's in a field like business administration.
Below, we provide the top three majors students can pursue through an online college in Maine.
NursingNursing students take coursework in areas like health assessment, advocacy through healthcare policy, and evidence-based practice. They must also complete a certain number of hours of clinical experience to qualify for licensure. While you can become a registered nurse with just a nursing diploma, nurses with a bachelor's degree hold a competitive edge in the job market.
Healthcare AdministrationHealthcare administration majors study topics like health informatics, health insurance and reimbursement, and the fundamentals of accounting. Healthcare executives typically need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for entry-level roles, though they can also benefit greatly from graduate-level education in strategic planning, the law, or business administration.
Management Information SystemsThis major combines technical coursework in computer programming, systems analysis, and data security with more business-oriented subjects like project management and organizational development. Students who major in this area often take on high-paying leadership roles, such as chief information officer or director of information systems.
Resources for Online College Students in Maine
Finance Authority of Maine: The Finance Authority of Maine oversees the state's need- and merit-based grant programs and provides student loan services. It also offers resources for students and families on how to save for college, how to apply for financial aid, and what to look for when researching online college courses in Maine.
Maine Community Foundation: The Maine Community Foundation administers a variety of scholarships for Maine students, with a particular focus on students seeking a graduate degrees or returning to school after prolonged absences. It also hosts a financial aid resource library, with guidance on completing the FAFSA, applying for other scholarships, and comparing student loan options.
Maine Department of Education: Maine's Department of Education maintains a list of non-accredited colleges and "degree mill" institutions, helping students avoid programs that do not meet minimum academic standards or prepare them for careers after graduation. You should look for schools that hold either regional, national, or programmatic accreditation.
New England Board of Higher Education: In addition to the substantial savings students can receive through the Tuition Break program, NEBHE publishes a comprehensive guide to New England colleges and universities. The guide includes information on application deadlines, acceptance rates, student-to-faculty ratios, demographic composition of student bodies, and total cost of attendance.