The University of Maine System (UMS) announced Wednesday that they will be offering free tuition to those who were physically injured in the Lewiston mass shooting, as well as to the surviving family members of those who lost their lives.
The Lewiston Strong Tuition Waiver will allow those eligible to pursue a bachelor’s degree for free at any school within the UMS.
The new program also establishes the Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund which will be used to help cover these students’ non-tuition costs associated with obtaining their degree.
The Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund will be managed by the University of Maine Foundation, and donations will be used to cover expenses including room, board, and books.
“I thank the University of Maine System for establishing the Lewiston Strong Tuition Waiver and Scholarship Fund, which will ensure that the cost of higher education will never be a barrier for those directly impacted by the tragedy in Lewiston,” said Gov. Janet Mills (D) in Wednesday’s press release. “Through their boundless generosity, Maine people are demonstrating that our state will stand by those who were injured and the families of those who were killed in the months, years and decades to come.”
The UMS estimates that as many as 80 people could benefit from the new program, including the spouses and children of the 18 who were killed, as well as the 31 individuals who were physically injured in connection with the shootings.
Eligibility will be verified by the UMS in collaboration with the Office of the Maine Attorney General.
“By all accounts, those who were tragically killed were deeply devoted to their families and working hard to provide them a strong future. While nothing will bring them back, the University of Maine System believes that the best way we can honor the memories of those taken too soon is to ensure their loved ones can easily access postsecondary education and opportunity,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy — the chief executive officer responsible for the overall governance and administration of the statewide University System — in Wednesday’s press release.
“Beyond unimaginable grief, we know there is also overwhelming anxiety about financial and other responsibilities for those directly impacted, especially for those who are suddenly single parents or who were physically injured because of this horrific mass shooting,” Chancellor Malloy said. “Our hope is that by committing to cover these college costs, it will alleviate one of the many burdens these families are now unfortunately facing and make it easier for them to rebuild their lives and our community.”
“The horrific events in Lewiston have continued to impact the people of Maine and our nation,” UMaine and University of Maine at Machias President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said in Wednesday’s press release. “The University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias communities are opening our arms to a brighter future where we can ensure access to higher education and be a resource of support to all directly affected by this tragedy.”
“The tragic shooting in Lewiston impacted the University of Southern Maine community: students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. We welcome this opportunity to provide assistance to those who are impacted by these heartbreaking events,” USM President Jacqueline Edmondson said in Wednesday’s press release. “It is my hope that this scholarship will provide educational opportunities for those who lost loved ones, and it is my wish that they will feel a sense of care and compassion from the many people who will donate to this important fund.”
Donations to the Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund will be accepting donations online through the UMaine Foundation at http://our.umaine.edu/lewiston and through the USM Foundation at http://usm.maine.edu/lewistonstrong.
Checks can either be mailed to Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund c/o UMaine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792 or Lewiston Strong Scholarship Fund c/o USM Foundation P.O. Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104-9300.