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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Does Early College for ME offer?
Early College for ME offers students three things:

1. A $2,000 scholarship for a two-year program at a Maine community college or
    $1,000 for a one-year program.

2. If your high school approves and courses are available, up to two Maine community
    college courses during your senior year in high school, with tuition, fees, and books
    paid for by the program.

3. Support from Early College for ME staff from your junior year of high school
    through your second year of college or for as long as you are in the program.

How do I qualify for Early College for ME?
Schools select students to apply for the scholarship program. However, if you are interested, you should contact your high school guidance office. To qualify, you must be a junior attending a publicly funded high school that’s participating in Early College for ME. You must be on track to graduate with your class and be “in good standing.” You must be a Maine resident and have not (yet) made plans for college. In choosing applicants, schools may consider financial need and whether students would be the first in their family to go to college.

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Why should I go to a Maine community college after high school?
Education or training beyond high school gives you more choices and opportunities in the job market as well as higher earning power. A Maine community college is an affordable, accessible option for college that will prepare you for a career or for transfer to a four-year college or university. Of Maine’s community college graduates, 93 percent land jobs or continue their education after earning a degree.

Can I go to any Maine community college?
Yes. Most students go to the community college nearest their home; however, you may apply to any of the seven colleges, and if accepted, choose which college to attend. Colleges vary in their programs of study, so you’re wise to look at programs, not just college location. In high school you receive support from the Early College for ME staff person representing the college nearest you. If you attend a college outside your region and you receive a scholarship, the support won’t change, only the person providing it.

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What support does Early College for ME staff provide?
Our staff serve as your bridge to college. Staff begin working with you in the spring of your junior year in high school, soon after you complete your Early College for ME application. Staff continue to work with you through your senior year to help you with the college admissions process and the federal financial aid application. Early College for ME staff keep in touch with you over the summer, and if you receive a scholarship, continue to support you in college for as long as you receive the scholarship.

What does the scholarship cover?
Scholarship students receive $500 per semester: up to $2,000 for a two-year program or $1,000 for a one-year program. Scholarship funds can be used for community college tuition and fees, books, program-required equipment (with approval), and on-campus housing. Scholarship funds are applied to students’ college account; no amount is paid or refunded to the student.

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What if I need financial aid in addition to this scholarship?
Early College for ME staff help you and your parent or guardian complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Filing this application is an Early College for ME requirement. However, applying for financial aid does not mean you have to accept it. Filing this application allows the college to consider you for financial aid, and if you qualify, have it ready for the start of your semester. The FAFSA must be filed by May 1. Students who meet that deadline and certain financial-need requirements may be eligible for a $1,000 Maine State Grant.

How is an Early College for ME scholarship awarded?
Applicants are notified about their scholarship by their high school during their senior year. You will be told whether you have been selected as a scholarship nominee or as an alternate. Scholarships are awarded to nominees who have filed for federal financial aid (see FAFSA in the previous question) and are accepted into a Maine community college program of study for the fall term following high school graduation and who take a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester for consecutive semesters.

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Does a scholarship alternate ever get a scholarship?
Yes. Therefore, Early College for ME staff helps both nominees and alternates apply for federal financial aid and college. Take full advantage of this help, because plans may change—sometimes at the last minute—and when a nominee drops out, an alternate moves up to take that place. Your high school decides in what order alternates can become nominees. However, receiving a scholarship depends on filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Financial Aid) and being accepted into a Maine community college. Even if you don’t receive an ECforME scholarship, there are other scholarships and financial aid programs available; our college financial aid staff can help you identify these resources.

Can I take an early college course through Early College for ME, and if so, how does that work?
Students may request to take one or two early college courses in their senior year. ECforME pays for course tuition, fees, and books. Depending on course availability, schools decide which students may take an early college course. Courses must carry 3 college credits, and students must be able to meet all course requirements. Therefore, most students take an introductory course. Our staff assists with course selection and registration, getting books, and answering questions. Courses may be offered both on campus and at a college outreach center and may be scheduled during the week, in the evenings, or on weekends. Students may take a course online, if they have school approval, computer access, and the school will provide technical support. Students are advised not to take a course at college they need for high school graduation.

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Can I get high school as well as college credit for an early college course?
Your high school decides whether your Maine community college course will qualify for high school credit. However, you should not take a college course to meet a high school graduation requirement.

What if I don’t want to take a college course as a high school senior or don’t have approval for a course?
Whether or not you take a college course in high school does not affect your eligibility for this scholarship. As available, college courses are offered to students whose Accuplacer (college placement test) scores and high school recommendation indicate academic readiness to take a college course as a high school senior. Students participating in Early College for ME take the Accuplacer in their junior year. If scores point to a skills gap in a particular area, it may be better to concentrate on enhancing those skills and doing well academically in the last year of high school. That will help you be ready for college-level work when you get to college.

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