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July 13, 2007


In response to Fraser Papers’ announcement that it will shut down two machines, resulting in the layoff of 160 mill workers, the University of Maine at Fort Kent has announced that it will offer one free, college course to each of the laid-off workers to assist them in their career search or to help them to begin to prepare for other careers.

Fraser, earlier this month, announced its intentions to permanently retire its two oldest machines by late August. It is expected that at least 160 workers will lose their jobs in the cost-cutting move.

UMFK will offer its assistance by providing all displaced workers a tuition waiver on one, three-credit university course.

“We are prepared to help those people who may be looking for new opportunities. Our mission as a public university is to serve the educational needs of the people of the St. John Valley. This is one concrete way for us to fulfill that mission and provide assistance to hard-working Valley residents in their time of need,” said UMFK President, Dr. Richard W. Cost.

At current in-state tuition rates, a three-credit UMFK course is valued at $510, plus student fees. UMFK will offer Fraser employees an opportunity to enroll in a course of their choice that, hopefully, will assist them in developing their skills for a new job, or spark an interest in a degree program that will lead to a new career.

“It is crucial that UMFK, and other higher education institutions, be prepared to work with people affected by this unexpected blow to the economy in the Valley. When jobs become scarce, people seek the skills they will need in order to take advantage of other opportunities that may be available to them,” said Cost.

The tuition waiver on a three-credit course is just one opportunity that UMFK will offer to assist the laid-off Fraser workers. The University’s Admissions Office counselors are available to guide any displaced employees who are interested with information on pursuing any number of programs in higher education available at UMFK.

“We welcome any Fraser employee who has a question about attending college. Our admissions counselors are available to provide information about various programs; which ones might be best suited for an individual; and perquisites, if any. The University’s Financial Aid Office is available to advise individuals on what financial aid opportunities might be available to them,” said Dr. Cost.

This service may be particularly helpful to parents with students already enrolled in college or university. The change in income may change eligibility for student aid programs and our financial aid staff can help explain how to document and seek support at any institution.

The free course offer is not mark the first time UMFK has extended an offer of assistance to displaced workers at Fraser Papers, or in the St. John Valley.

UMFK made a similar gesture to Fraser employees in the spring of 2003 when the company announced a downsizing. The University also made courses available to employees of Kent, Inc. (2003) and NorSun (2004), when those companies closed their operations in Fort Kent. Some of those individuals used this program to embark on new career paths where today they continue to thrive and succeed.

Displaced Fraser Papers employees interested in obtaining more information on the three-credit tuition waiver, or for counseling on options in higher education, should contact the UMFK Admissions Office at (207) 834-7600. Information on financial aid is available through the University’s Financial Aid Office at (207) 834-7606.