Overview of Colleges in Maine
The Maine Community College System consists of seven public community colleges:
- Central Maine Community College
- Eastern Maine Community College
- Kennebec Valley Community College
- Northern Maine Community College
- Southern Maine Community College
- Washington County Community College
- York County Community College
The community colleges collectively offer more than 300 distinct degree and certificate programs from which students may choose. In 2021, total enrollment across Maine’s seven community colleges was greater than 15,000.
In terms of affordability, the average annual tuition at Maine community colleges is $3,700 ($96 per credit hour), the lowest among community colleges in the New England area.
In this article, you’ll learn which institutions rank among Maine’s best online community colleges, as well as helpful information on tuition, financial aid, accreditation, graduate salaries, and more.
Why Study in Maine?
With a total enrollment of more than 70,000 across 37 institutions of higher education — 10 public universities, 20 private colleges, and 7 community colleges — Maine is a state steadfastly committed to higher education.
In 2019, 47% of Maine residents aged 25 and older earned at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the unemployment rate of Maine residents holding a bachelor’s degree was only 1.3%.
Does Maine Have Good Online Colleges?
Over the past few years, the idea of pursuing a college education online has moved from one of exception to one of universal expectation. The same holds true for students attending any one of Maine’s nearly 40 colleges and universities. The quality and strength of Maine’s traditional in-person model of higher education has been replicated through 300+ online degree and certificate programs.
Combined with an average online community college tuition rate of $96 per credit hour, which is significantly less than the national average of $141 per credit hour, online learning in Maine provides ample access and affordability to higher education — especially at the community college level.
According to a study by Strada Education Network
, 12,000 nationally-representative college students asked students, “If you had $5,000 to spend on education, how would you use it?” In answering the question, 46% stated they would “prefer online programs over in-person programs.”
As noted earlier, there are nearly 40 different colleges and universities in Maine, including 7 community colleges, each of which offers online degree and certificate programs.
Collectively, these 2-year institutions offer more than 300 online degree and certificate programs.
Accredited Online Community Colleges in Maine
In higher education, accreditation serves as an official stamp of approval by a third-party agency, which is contracted to evaluate whether an institution meets the minimum requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The U.S. DOE and Council for Higher Education Accreditation are not part of the institutional accreditation process. Instead, the two entities simply provide oversight of accrediting bodies.
The accreditation process entails an extensive review of an institution’s academic quality. In considering online colleges in Maine, be sure and research the accreditation status of any community college you are considering.
Popular Online Programs at Maine Community Colleges
The most popular online degree programs and topics at Maine community colleges include liberal studies, business administration and management, nursing, health care administration, and criminal justice.
Seven community colleges offer online liberal studies degree programs, six offer business administration and management programs, four offer online nursing programs and three offer health care administration and criminal justice degree programs.
Cost of Online Schools in Maine
The cost of pursuing a college degree is a key factor in the college decision-making process. Making a sound decision about where to attend college requires being an informed consumer.
In considering your options, it’s crucial that you thoroughly research tuition costs at each school. Students pursuing an online degree at any of Maine’s seven community colleges pay the same tuition.
The U.S. DOE provides the tuition rates at Maine community colleges from 2020-2021:
- In-State (Maine) residents: $2,880 per year ($96 per credit hour)
- Out-of-State students: $5,760 per year ($192 per credit hour)
In contrast, the average tuition across all community colleges in the U.S. is $141 per credit hour for in-state students and $339 per credit hour for non-residents, making online community college in Maine one of the most affordable options available.
Financial Aid for Online Students in Maine
There are a number of financial aid options available to online community college students in Maine. By completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will be considered for federal student aid, including different grants and student loans.
Similarly, by completing the FAFSA, Maine residents will also be considered for state grant programs offered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Residents who are adult learners can qualify for the Maine State Grant Program for Adult Learners.
Students attending a Maine community college, who are also residents of New England states other than Maine, may qualify for reduced out-of-state tuition through the New England Board of Higher Education’s APPLE Program. This program provides qualified New England-area students with a tuition rate equal to 150% of the in-state tuition rate.
Is Community College Free in Maine?
Maine residents who graduate from high school in 2020, 2021, or 2022 can attend a Maine community college at no cost through the Free College Scholarship, which is made possible by the Maine Community College System (MCCS).
Certain residents may also qualify for The Tuition Waiver Program (Foster Care) or The Tuition Waiver Program (Public Servant), which are available to certain foster children and adopted children/wards of Maine and children or spouses of Maine firefighters, law enforcement officers, or emergency responders killed in the line of duty.
As an additional resource, MCSS maintains an online list of scholarship resources for students.
Employment Outlook for Community College Graduates in Maine
The Maine Department of Labor's Center for Workforce Research and Information projects more than ten different occupations to be in high demand by 2028. "High demand" is defined as an occupation projected to have 20 or more openings each year.
By 2028, the following occupations are projected to experience the greatest growth for individuals holding at least an associate degree:
In terms of the projected state growth of “high-wage, in-demand” jobs by 2028, the Department of Labor projects the following occupations to experience the greatest increase in the number of jobs available for individuals holding at least an associate degree:
- Paralegals and legal assistants
- Mechanical drifters
- Dental hygienists
- Engineering technicians
- Radiologic technicians
To learn more about career opportunities, take a look at our Career Guide.