LEWISTON — Those who were physically injured and surviving family members of those killed in the Lewiston mass shooting last month will be able to attend the University of Maine System for free.
Gov. Mills, Chancellor Dannel Malloy and the Board of Trustees announced today a new Lewiston Strong Tuition Waiver for eligible victims who choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree through any of Maine’s public universities.
Chancellor Malloy said UMS decided to develop the waiver after Gov. Mills asked the System to establish a scholarship fund for those directly impacted by the October tragedy. The System built on the Governor’s request, agreeing to waive tuition altogether and also creating a fund to accept donations toward the non-tuition college costs of those affected by the mass shooting.
“I thank the University of Maine System for establishing the Lewiston Strong Tuition Waiver and Scholarship Fund, which will ensure that the cost of higher education will never be a barrier for those directly impacted by the tragedy in Lewiston,” said Gov. Janet Mills. “Through their boundless generosity, Maine people are demonstrating that our state will stand by those who were injured and the families of those who were killed in the months, years and decades to come.”
UMS estimates that more than 80 impacted individuals could have their entire public university tuition and fees waived. Those eligible include spouses and biological, adopted and step children of the 18 individuals who were killed, as well as the 31 Mainers who sustained physical injuries connected to the shootings. The System is working with the Office of the Maine Attorney General to verify eligibility.
This academic year, the average UMS cost of in-state tuition and fees is $10,196. Waiver recipients 20 and older could also participate at no cost in the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s YourPace program, an entirely online competency-based program for which adult students pay a flat fee per session inclusive of as many courses as they wish to take and all related materials.
“By all accounts, those who were tragically killed were deeply devoted to their families and working hard to provide them a strong future. While nothing will bring them back, the University of Maine System believes that the best way we can honor the memories of those taken too soon is to ensure their loved ones can easily access postsecondary education and opportunity,” said Chancellor Malloy.
“Beyond unimaginable grief, we know there is also overwhelming anxiety about financial and other responsibilities for those directly impacted, especially for those who are suddenly single parents or who were physically injured because of this horrific mass shooting. Our hope is that by committing to cover these college costs, it will alleviate one of the many burdens these families are now unfortunately facing and make it easier for them to rebuild their lives and our community.”
New Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund established, donations sought
To make the transformational power of a four-year postsecondary degree even more accessible, UMS has also established a Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund through which the public is invited to invest in the future of those impacted by the Lewiston shooting. The fund, which will be managed by the University of Maine Foundation, will help defray other costs of college attendance including room, board and books, with preference given to those eligible for the waiver.
“The horrific events in Lewiston have continued to impact the people of Maine and our nation,” said UMaine and University of Maine at Machias President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “The University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias communities are opening our arms to a brighter future where we can ensure access to higher education and be a resource of support to all directly affected by this tragedy.”
The UMaine Foundation and the University of Southern Maine Foundation will both accept donations toward the scholarship fund. USM has a campus at 51 Westminster St. in Lewiston, historically known as Lewiston-Auburn College and focused on healthcare programs, and one of the University of Maine at Augusta’s regional distance education centers is also co-located there.
“The tragic shooting in Lewiston impacted the University of Southern Maine community: students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. We welcome this opportunity to provide assistance to those who are impacted by these heartbreaking events,” said USM President Jacqueline Edmondson. “It is my hope that this scholarship will provide educational opportunities for those who lost loved ones, and it is my wish that they will feel a sense of care and compassion from the many people who will donate to this important fund.”
To donate through the UMaine Foundation, please visit our.umaine.edu/lewiston or mail checks to Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund c/o UMaine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792.
To donate through the USM Foundation, please visit usm.maine.edu/lewistonstrong or mail checks to Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund c/o USM Foundation P.O. Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104-9300.