Tuition-Free College For Recent High School Graduates



Starting immediately, high school graduates from the Classes of 2020-23 don’t have to pay anything in tuition or mandatory fees at Maine’s community colleges if they enroll full-time while pursuing an associate degree or 1-year certificate program.

Students must live in Maine while enrolled and accept all federal and state grants and scholarships awarded to them. Tuition and fees average $3,700 a year for a full-time student.

What is the free community college proposal?

This $20 million state allocation provides up to two years of free community college to the high school graduates most affected by the pandemic: the Classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023. It was signed into law on April 20, 2022 by Governor Janet Mills as part of the supplemental budget.

To qualify, students must

• Have a high school diploma or equivalent. This includes home-schooled students, and students earning a GED or Hi-SET during those years.
• Stay on track for graduation. For most students, this means attending full-time, earning 30 credits per year. Alternate plans must be approved by each student’s advisor.
• Pursue an associate degree or academic credential.
• Accept all federal and state grants and scholarships. This is a last-dollar scholarship.
• Participate in academic planning and advising to stay on track to completion.
• Live in Maine at the time of enrollment and while enrolled in the program.

Why focus on the students in those graduating classes?

We know that those students were the most impacted by the pandemic. Their high school experience was severely disrupted, their families faced economic, health and financial challenges, and many graduating seniors delayed going to college. This offer is intended to remove a financial barrier that might be keeping some people from returning to college, or pursuing college right out of high school.

Why require the students to attend full-time?

Studies find that students have a much higher chance of success and completion if they attend full-time. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center analyzed completion rates in 2020 and found that part-time students dropped out of college at about twice the rate of full-time students.

Are there other ways for Maine community college students to get “free college”?

Yes, we offer multiple tuition waiver or free college opportunities, including:

  • Free Early College: With state funds, any high school student can take up to 12 free college credits a year at any MCCS or UMS college. If they exceed 12 credits in a year, tuition is half-price.
  • Free Short-term Workforce Training: With Maine Quality Center funds, Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan funds and a mix of public and private investments, MCCS offers free short-term training (up to one year) to thousands of workers every year. There is no age restriction, and many in program are early and mid-career.
  • Free College through state and federal grants: Community college is already free for many students, they just don’t know it! For years now, about half of all degree-seeking students at Maine’s community colleges receive enough grant aid to cover the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees. Seventy-four percent get some form of grant aid, lowering the cost of attendance.


To Learn More or Speak with Admissions:

Contact Admissions at (207) 768-2785 or email


Begin your FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or Contact the Office of Financial Aid:



NMCC’s FAFSA Federal School Code is 005760

As you begin this process, feel free to contact us with any question.