Ferrini-Mundy, students speak with media about tuition-free education

University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, and UMaine students Courtney Hatton and Bentley Simpson, were recent guests on the George Hale and Ric Tyler Show on 103.9 WVOM, The Voice of Maine. Ferrini-Mundy, Hatton and Simpson also were interviewed by WVII (Channel 7), and The Maine Edge also spoke with Hatton and Simpson. More than 4,000 Maine students are attending University of Maine System institutions in the spring 2019 semester free of tuition and fee expenses, and 24 percent of students in the system graduate free of debt, WVII reported. “The entire system has been really engaged in trying to up those percentages, and here at UMaine we’ve seen a big increase in the past seven years or so, from about 30 million to 60 million (dollars) that’s available through the system part of the financial aid. And then on top of that, of course, really working with our University of Maine Foundation to make sure the scholarship aid we provide is equally strong,” said Ferrini-Mundy. “It gives these students an opportunity to consider staying in Maine, or come back to Maine, and to bring all that they’ve benefited from in their university experience to the community of Maine and make a difference here.” The students gave their perspectives on how the system’s efforts are helping them further their education and career paths without the hindrance of student loan debt. Hatton is a biology student who returned to school after 11 years in the workforce, according to WVII. “This past year has been completely financed on scholarships through the help of UMaine alumni and the scholarships through the University of Maine System,” Hatton said. “I’m taking my passion for the outdoors and the ocean and then combining that with a true academic background,” said Simpson, a marine sciences student.