Financial aid opens the door to higher education for 85% of students at the University of Southern Maine. But there are many aspiring students who aren't eligible to receive federal aid, making college a distant dream. To help these deserving students — asylum seekers, new Mainers and international students — overcome financial barriers, the USM Foundation created the Access to Education Scholarship.
Now MEMIC, one of USM's leading employer partners, has issued a $20,000 challenge to support the Access to Education Scholarship. During the month of April, MEMIC will match contributions one-to-one up to $20,000, unlocking the company's $20,000 donation to the scholarship fund.
"Maine's greatest existential threat is its aging population. We all must be intentional about attracting and retaining talent. This scholarship targets a student population that holds great potential for Maine's economic future — but without the help of federal financial aid, their way forward is blocked," explained MEMIC's senior vice president of external affairs, Tony Payne. "MEMIC is committed to opening those doors and bringing more skilled graduates into our state's workforce."
A national leader in workplace safety, MEMIC has forged deep ties with USM to help build the next generation of talent in Maine. In 2018, the company established the MEMIC John T. Leonard Endowed Chair in Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) at USM. This investment will help double the capacity of USM's RMI program, which is helping to meet critical workforce needs in one of Maine's most robust industries.
Now, with the $20,000 Access to Education challenge this spring, MEMIC is continuing its focus on higher education accessibility by helping to make more scholarships available to more students, including many new Mainers who aren't eligible for Pell grants and other forms of federal aid.
USM's director of student financial services Keith Dubois said, "Nearly half of USM students depend on Pell grants to afford tuition. Lack of eligibility for this type of federal aid creates a very steep financial barrier. The new USM Access to Education Scholarship is designed specifically to help these students, many of whom are highly qualified applicants --- and we would love to have them here at USM."
Starting April 1, USM's wider community of donors, friends, alumni and employer partners will be asked to "help make the match" so that USM can meet MEMIC's $20,000 Access to Education challenge.
"MEMIC is stepping up in a big way to strengthen our scholarship resources at USM," said Corey Hascall, vice president for alumni and public engagement at the USM Foundation. "This challenge goes to the very heart of the USM Foundation's mission because scholarships have the capacity to transform our students' lives. So this spring, we are asking the USM community to help us rise to the challenge and give to the Access to Education Scholarship."
Follow this link to make a contribution to the Access to Education Scholarship.