ORONO, Maine (AP) — University of Maine System trustees on Friday gave conditional approval to a $559 million spending plan that will include a 2.5% tuition increase. The system also received a new accreditation on Friday.
The anticipated costs of responding to the global pandemic in the upcoming budget year will exceed $20 million in terms of lost event revenue, student safety allowances in dining and residence hall operations, and investments in technology and safety equipment and supplies.
But students aren't facing any added burden; the tuition increase was planned long before the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Dannel Malloy said.
“The expenses and uncertainty of COVID-19 has created unprecedented budget challenges for Maine’s public universities,” Malloy said in a statement. “While there is work yet to do, today’s vote by the board makes it clear that students and their families will not face a tuition increase this fall related to the costs of COVID-19.”
The budget includes an unresolved $5.69 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that will be adjusted after the board gets updates this fall about enrollment, expenses and state appropriations.
Also Friday, the New England Commission of Higher Education voted to accredit the University of Maine System instead of accrediting the seven separate campuses. Malloy had pressed for the unified accreditation to become more efficient.
"This innovative approach will reduce accreditation costs and improve accountability across an entire system,” said Diane Jones, principal deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education.