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2020/21 High School Grads: Don’t Miss Out! To qualify for the Free College Scholarship you must enroll in Spring 2024 or Summer 2024!

How It Works

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If you’ve ever thought that you can’t afford college, think again.
If you graduated high school (or earned the equivalent of a high school diploma) in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023—or will graduate in 2024 or 2025, you qualify for free tuition at Maine’s community colleges!

What is the Free College Scholarship?

The Free College Scholarship gives recent high school graduates a leg up on their next adventure as they enter the workforce in the wake of a global pandemic. High school graduates from the Classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 all qualify for a Free College Scholarship that pays 100% of tuition and mandatory fees at SMCC.

Who is eligible for a Free College Scholarship?

If you graduated high school (or earned the equivalent of a high school diploma, like a GED or Hi-SET) in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, or 2025 and enroll within three years of graduation – you’re eligible. It’s that simple. There are no income or age limits. All you have to do is enroll part-time or full-time in a degree or certificate program and accept any state or federal aid you qualify for. That’s it – you’re in!

What does the Free College Scholarship cover?

It pays for up to two years of tuition and mandatory fees, which typically runs about $3,880 a year.

It does not pay for books, supplies, transportation, housing, food, and any additional non-mandatory fees.

Get Started

For 2020-2025 high school graduates:

Interested in becoming a student?

Fill out our quick and easy online application.

Accepted but not registered?

Sign up for a New Student Advising session.

Currently an SMCC student?

Browse and register for classes today.

Please note:

  • If you have already applied and are waiting to hear back regarding your acceptance, you do not need to apply again to be considered for the Free College Scholarship. We will provide more information about Free College when we send your acceptance materials.

Free College FAQ’s

Have questions about Free College? Browse these FAQ’s to find the answers you need.

HOW DO I QUALIFY FOR THE FREE COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP?

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.
  • Apply and be accepted to SMCC.
  • File the FAFSA.
    Please note:  If you aren’t eligible to file the FAFSA or can’t complete it for any reason, you must contact the SMCC Financial Aid Office.
  • Enroll in the following timeframes:
    • 2020-21 grads – No later than Fall 2023, Spring 2024, or Summer 2024
    • 2022 grads – No later than Fall 2024, Spring 2025, or Summer 2025
    • 2023 grads – No later than Fall 2025, Spring 2026, or Summer 2026
    • 2024 grads – No later than Fall 2026, Spring 2027, or Summer 2027
    • 2025 grads – No later than Fall 2027, Spring 2028, or Summer 2028
  • Complete the program of study within 200% of the stated completion time (i.e., if your program completion time is 2-years, you can take up to 4-years to complete it). This means part-time enrollment is an option.
  • Pursue a certificate or associate degree.
  • Accept all federal and state grants and scholarships, which are determined after your FAFSA is processed.
  • 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.
DO I HAVE TO ENROLL IN A CERTAIN TIMEFRAME?

Yes. Enroll in the following timeframes:

  • 2020-21 grads – No later than Fall 2023, Spring 2024, or Summer 2024 
  • 2022 grads – No later than Fall 2024, Spring 2025, or Summer 2025
  • 2023 grads – No later than Fall 2025, Spring 2026, or Summer 2026
  • 2024 grads – No later than Fall 2026, Spring 2027, or Summer 2027
  • 2025 grads – No later than Fall 2027, Spring 2028, or Summer 2028
HOW DO I APPLY?

There is no application for the Free College Scholarship. If you are eligible and enroll at SMCC, our financial aid office will work with you to award the scholarship. Apply to SMCC now.

WHAT DOES THE FREE COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP PAY FOR?

The Free College Scholarship pays for tuition and mandatory fees that are not covered by federal and state grants. The Free College Scholarship does not pay for: books, supplies, transportation, housing, food, etc.

WHAT CAN I STUDY?

You can choose from any of our degree or certificate programs. View programs.

WHAT IF I CAN’T GO FULL-TIME (30 CREDITS OVER 12 MONTHS)?

Part-time enrollment is also an option. You can continue accessing the Free College Scholarship for the program you are pursuing for up to 200% of the completion time (i.e., if your program completion time is 2-years, you can take up to 4-years to complete it).
Plus, SMCC offers multiple tuition waiver or free college opportunities, including free short-term workforce training, which you can learn about by visiting our Career Skills & Workforce Training webpage.

CAN I EARN MORE THAN ONE ASSOCIATE DEGREE?

No. The intent is to increase the number of people with associate degrees. There is flexibility in the event of extenuating personal circumstances, at the discretion of the college leadership.

CAN I USE THE FREE COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP TO GET TWO ONE-YEAR CERTIFICATES OR A CERTIFICATE AND AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE?
  • Yes, if the two certificates are stackable. (for example, Heating certificate, Plumbing certificate) 
  • Yes, if the certificate leads to the associate degree (for example, Automotive Chassis certificate) 
  • Yes, if the two certificates are directly related. (for example, Construction Technology certificate and Electrician Technology certificate) 
  • No, if the two certificates are not related.
WHAT IS THE FAFSA AND HOW DO I COMPLETE IT?

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s used by all schools to determine eligibility for federal and state financial aid. If you need help, there are advisors standing by at FAME Maine. You can also contact our financial aid office at 207-741-5518, email finaid@smccME.edu or visit our Financial Aid webpage.

ARE THOSE WHO ARE NOT U.S. CITIZENS ELIGIBLE?

Yes! Noncitizens qualify for the scholarship.

HOW LONG DOES THE FREE COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP LAST?

Up to 200% of completion time (i.e., if your program completion time is 2-years, you can take up to 4-years to complete it).

I’M ALREADY AN SMCC STUDENT, DO I QUALIFY?

Yes! If you graduated from high school in 2020-2023, or will graduate in 2024 or 2025, you qualify for free college, even if you’re already enrolled. You do not need to apply for the scholarship. The Financial Aid Office at SMCC will work with you.

I ALREADY APPLIED AND AM WAITING TO HEAR IF I’VE BEEN ACCEPTED. DO I NEED TO APPLY AGAIN?

No. If you’ve applied we will send you information regarding your acceptance and next steps around the Free College Scholarship.

CAN I GET A REFUND FOR PREVIOUS SEMESTERS?

Unfortunately no – sorry! This scholarship is new and does not retroactively cover any costs.

DOES THE FREE COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP COVER DEVELOPMENTAL CLASSES?

Yes, it does.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A FREE COLLEGE INITIATIVE?

The most direct benefit is to the students themselves, who won’t have to pay tuition or mandatory fees. But there are other benefits as well, including:

  • Creating a spectrum of free education opportunities for high school graduates, no matter their path. Maine’s community colleges currently offer free short-term workforce training programs, which take less than a year to complete.
  • Increasing the number of successful students at Maine’s community colleges. Studies show full-time students have higher retention/graduation rates.
  • Increasing the number of young people in Maine with a credential of value. Supports MaineSpark and Maine’s 10-year economic plan goal of having 60 percent of Mainers with a credential of value by 2025, up from the current 44 percent.
  • Increasing Maine’s high school graduation rate. Promise of free college for high school graduates may increase graduation rates.
  • Encouraging young Mainers to stay in the state. Incentive to stay and get free college in Maine instead of pursuing an education or job out of state.
  • Attracting out-of-state families who want to live and work in a state that offers free college for their children.
ARE THERE OTHER WAYS FOR SMCC STUDENTS TO GET “FREE COLLEGE”?

Are there other ways for SMCC students to get “free college”? (pulled from system FAQ’s)

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. For more information, visit our Dual Enrollment webpage.
  • Free Short-term Workforce Training: With Maine Quality Center funds, Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan funds and a mix of public and private investments, SMCC 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. For more information, visit our Career Skills & Workforce Training webpage.
  • 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.
  • The Maine Community College system also has tuition waiver policies for:
    • Adult education students
    • Service members or veterans
    • Students from foster care
    • Native Americans from regional tribes
    • Low-income parents, via HOPE Program (DHHS – Higher Opportunity for Pathways to Employment) and PaS Program (TANF – Parents as Scholars)
    • Children or spouses
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FREE COLLEGE AND FINANCIAL AID?

Southern Maine Community College is…

Free or Affordable

Offering FREE tuition to high school grads from 2020-2025 and short-term training opportunities. For those who don’t qualify, our tuition and fees are the lowest in New England at $3,880 per year, in-state with financial aid options.

Flexible

Choose from short-term training opportunities that allow you to start employment quickly and associate degree and certificate programs that allow you to further expand your career opportunities.

Supportive

We are here to help you determine what program to choose based on your goals and provide services from advising to career counseling to ensure you reach your full potential.

Transferable

We have numerous transfer agreements that allow you to transfer seamlessly to a four-year college upon graduating from various associate degree programs.

Connected

Our faculty are talented experts in their field and are connected with business partners locally and beyond putting you one step ahead of the rest for internships and job opportunities.

Vibrant

Offering on-campus housing, athletics and student clubs and organizations and more. No matter who you are you’ll find a network of peers to help you succeed.

START HERE. GO ANYWHERE.

90% of SMCC graduates get a job or continue their education within nine months of graduation.

SMCC graduates have started their careers at top-notch employers like:

  • Bath Iron Works
  • Goodwill Industries
  • Hannaford
  • IDEXX
  • Maine Medical Center
  • L.L.Bean
  • Texas Instruments
  • Pratt & Whitney
  • WCSH6
  • TD Bank
  • WEX

Continue Your Education

SMCC graduates have used our transfer agreements to continue their education at:

  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Maine College of Art
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Saint Joseph’s College
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Thomas College
  • University of Maine
  • University of New England
  • University of Southern Maine
  • Wellesley College

Have questions?

We’re here to help. Contact us at admissions@smccME.edu or 207-741-5800.