A first-in-the-state program at the University of Southern Maine aims to help low income veterans prepare to become college students.
By Thanksgiving, USM's new Veterans Upward Bound program will be reaching out across Maine to low income veterans, particularly those who would be the first in their family to graduate from college.
The program will be funded by a $263,938 grant through the U.S. Department of Education's Veterans Upward Bound Program. The grant was recently announced by Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King. It will be run by USM's TRIO office, which already runs a variety of services including a traditional Upward Bound Program aimed at introducing college to low income high schoolers.
The new program will work as a one-on-one resource for veterans to examine their readiness for college, access any needed tutoring and apply to their chosen school.
"TRIO programs like Veterans Upward Bound provide vital assistance to low-income veterans seeking to become first-generation college students," Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. "We are pleased that this essential program that gives veterans the resources and support they need to succeed in postsecondary education will now be offered across Maine."
The work is part of ongoing efforts to assist veterans at USM. Of Maine's 119,058 veterans, 7,954 are low-income and 89,179 do not have a bachelor's degree and are highly likely to be potential first-generation college students.
"At the University of Southern Maine, we have nearly 350 student veterans -- the highest number of any college or university in Maine -- and we've made it our mission to help them achieve and excel in their academic goals," said Glenn Cummings, USM's president. "I am pleased that our University's TRIO Program has been selected for this grant that will help 125 veterans each year to prepare them for higher education -- it's a life-changer, and we're proud to be supporting and giving back to those who have given the highest level of sacrifice to our nation."
Many veterans did not consider attending college when they were in high school so they often did not learn about college or prepare for its work, said Laurie Davis, the executive director of TRIO Programs at USM.
"We'll be excited to add this new group to our services," Davis said.
Plans call for the program to help about 125 veterans each year.
Watch the WGME-TV story here.