SMCC to offer free tuition for 2020-2023 high school graduates  after Legislature approves Free Community College initiative

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Southern Maine Community College will offer two years of free community college to high school graduates most affected by the pandemic under the state’s new Free Community College initiative.

Maine lawmakers on Tuesday, April 19 adopted the state’s supplemental budget for the coming fiscal year, which included a proposal from Gov. Janet Mills to cover tuition and fees for students who earned or will earn a high school diploma or equivalent in 2020, 2021, 2022 or 2023. The offer applies to students who attend SMCC or any of the state’s other six community colleges.

 “This is a generational opportunity for students to receive the education and training they need to build bright futures,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “These students met the challenge while having their high school educations upended by the pandemic. Now, we’re here to help them meet the challenge of earning a college education so they can reach their potential and gain the skills they need to successfully compete in Maine’s economy.”

To qualify for the program, students must:

  • Earn a high school diploma or the equivalent during the years from 2020 through 2023.
  • Enroll full-time.
  • Pursue an associate degree or academic credential, such as a one-year certificate.
  • Accept all federal and state grants and scholarships.
  • Participate in academic planning and advising and stay on track to completion.
  • Live in Maine at the time of enrollment and while enrolled in college.

The program is open to students who completed high school, were home-schooled for high school, earned a GED or Hi-SET, or are immigrants, as long as they earned a high school diploma or equivalent during the designated years.

Suzanne Hanvey, an SMCC student who graduated high school in 2021, said the Free Community College initiative is an incentive for young people to stay in Maine for college and for work opportunities upon completion.

“With so many young people leaving the state of Maine to find opportunities elsewhere, it is imperative we find ways to keep the younger generations here to help our economy,” she said. “Free community college would allow students to attend school and work at the same time contributing greatly to the Maine economy. It would also allow young people to truly meet their highest potential and make a true change in the world. This would be of great benefit to not only the students of the Maine community college system but to the greater population of Maine.”

For more information about the initiative, interested persons can visit the SMCC website at or contact the Admissions Office at or 207-741-5800.

 Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) is Maine’s largest and oldest community college. Founded in 1946, SMCC offers courses at its South Portland, Brunswick and Online campuses, and at community satellite locations. SMCC has among the lowest tuition and fees in New England and offers more than 40 degree programs.