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Maine Technical College System

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April, 23, 2001
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

Augusta, ME — Maine adults who have been out of school for at least a year may qualify to receive two courses tuition-free at a Maine Technical College under a new scholarship program announced today. The scholarships are for new students enrolling in the Technical Colleges' Associate in Arts program — a liberal arts transfer program developed in partnership with Maine's universities.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the nation's first community college, the Maine Technical College System is offering an unlimited number of Osher Scholarships for all qualified applicants who apply between April 30 and May 11.

"Our goal is to reach out to those who have been out of school for awhile and want a college degree but have hesitated because of cost," said Maine Technical College System President John Fitzsimmons. "We hope this unique opportunity — unlimited scholarships for anyone who qualifies — will motivate many Maine adults to act now and take that important first step toward a college degree," he said.

A study conducted by the Technical College System this winter revealed that at least 90,000 Maine adults without a college degree have a strong interest in earning one. The study also found that for the vast majority, cost and finances were the primary barriers to college.

The Osher Scholarship for Associate in Arts Students is made possible by a $1 million gift to the Maine Technical College System made last year by The Bernard Osher Foundation. The gift was matched by the State, creating a $2 million endowed scholarship fund. The Foundation specified that the scholarships be used to support students enrolled in programs developed under the Community College Partnership ñ a joint initiative of the Maine Technical College System and University of Maine System.

The combined Osher/State resources will fund 245 scholarships annually. The Technical Colleges will back any additional scholarships for eligible applicants who apply during the two-week period of April 30 through May 11. If any of the 245 scholarships remain at the end of the two weeks, they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to those who apply for the upcoming Fall term.

At a tuition rate of $68 per credit hour, the Osher Scholarship has a value of $408 — covering two three-credit courses. Students are responsible for fees and books associated with the courses.

The Associate in Arts in general/liberal studies program — launched at the Technical Colleges in Fall 1999 — is a standard offering of community colleges. The program provides the core general education requirements for most baccalaureate programs as well as for associate degree career programs. Maine's seven Technical Colleges and Universities have developed transfer agreements for the program.

To be eligible for the Osher Scholarship, applicants must be Maine residents, may not have attended high school or college within the year preceding the upcoming Fall term, or have accumulated more than 24 college credits. In addition, applicants must apply and qualify for the Associate in Arts program.

The two-week application window is considered a pilot. Depending on its success in drawing students, it may be replicated in future years.

Osher Foundation donates additional $500,000

Just last month, The Bernard Osher Foundation approved an additional gift of $500,000 to the Maine Technical College System, to supplement the endowed scholarship fund. The gift, which must be matched by the System, is expected to fund an additional 120 scholarships annually in future years.

The gifts are in addition to a $2 million donation from The Osher Foundation to the System in 1999 — the largest individual gift in the Systemís history. That endowment is being used to fund scholarships for full-time students and emergency grants and loans, with eligibility guidelines set by the individual Technical Colleges.

The Bernard Osher Foundation is a San Francisco-based philanthropic organization. The Foundation was created in 1978 by Bernard Osher