The Academic Common Market
Updated: Mar 11
You may know someone who is attending a public school in a different state, but they don’t have to pay in-state tuition. They tell you they didn’t qualify for financial aid or receive a merit scholarship. Out-of-state tuition is usually 2- to 3- times higher than in-state tuition. You wonder, how is this possible? They tell you the Academic Common Market.
What is the Academic Common Market?
The Southern Regional Education Board created this program over 35 years ago to provide students an opportunity to study in one of the 15 participating states. The catch? Your degree program is not offered in your home state. The list continually changes since colleges are adding and removing majors every year, and they vary from state to state.
Currently, for residents of the state of Georgia, there are 82 traditional undergraduate programs available at 26 institutions. As you can imagine, these programs are unique and uncommon. Some include Medical Sociology at the University of Alabama Birmingham, Equine Administration at the University of Louisville, Maritime Supply Chain Management at Old Dominion University, Toxicology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and Funeral Services at the University of Central Oklahoma. To see all programs, click here. Note, you need to select your state of residence before searching. I also recommend filtering by degree level and delivery method, if you are looking for a traditional undergraduate program.
How Do You Apply?
Students must first apply and be accepted to their specific institution, and the particular program. After that, you must contact your home state’s ACM coordinator. They will verify that you are a resident of your home state, and will let you know your next steps. Not every student who applies is accepted, and the process varies from state to state.
Additionally, students must continue in the specific major/track to continue receiving in-state tuition. Additional terms vary from school to school. Auburn University only participates for third years and higher. Most schools do not “stack” merit scholarships with the ACM, so it may be cheaper to not go through the ACM. Some states, like Texas and Florida, only participate at the Graduate level.
Is ACM For Me?
The Academic Common Market is an excellent resource for students who know what they want to study. It’s important to remember that ACM is not a source of financial aid, and students shouldn’t force a major to fit them so that they can attend a specific school. I’ve seen students try to do that, and it always backfires. You also need to run the numbers and make sure you won’t receive more in academic scholarships than the ACM award. While the average tuition savings per student was $15,467 in 2017, some schools, like the University of Alabama Huntsville, University of Alabama Birmingham, Mississippi State, among others, offer generous merit scholarships. You should be able to discuss your financial aid package with the school before applying to the ACM. For more information, check out the ACM brochure or the ACM FAQs page.