Academic Common Market helps with college costs


Students limiting their college searches by cost may want to know about the Academic Common Market (ACM), which allows Kentucky residents to pay in-state tuition rates to study in certain programs in other Southeastern states.

Coordinated by the Southern Regional Education Board, the ACM includes programs in states throughout the Southeast with the exception of North Carolina, which is phasing out its participation. Kentucky has participated since the early 1970s, initially for graduate studies only.

According to Kathy Garrett, Kentucky’s ACM state coordinator at the Council on Postsecondary Education, “The ACM enables students to have access to programs in other states that are not offered at Kentucky’s public institutions for the in-state tuition rate.  Out-of-state tuition rates could make programs unavailable to students without the benefit of the ACM.”

Kentucky students participating in ACM may study any of a number of fields including petroleum engineering in Louisiana, aerospace engineering in Alabama or marine science in South Carolina.

Undergraduate programs now account for a significant proportion of the list of those approved. Garrett’s office issued 150 certificates approving ACM program participation for Kentucky students this year, 131 for undergraduate study and 19 for graduate study. To supplement traditional, campus-based study options, an increasing number of online degree programs have become available through ACM at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Not all public institutions within participating states are involved and of those that are, a few anomalies are evident. Universities in Florida and Texas, for example, participate at the graduate level only. Some institutions, such as University of Georgia and Auburn, only allow ACM participants for upper-level studies in junior and senior years.

ACM represents the sole instance in which KEES funds can follow a student out of state, although they cannot be applied toward online programs. (Note: KEES funds, awarded for high school achievement and ACT scores, are administered by KHEAA and not by ACM.)

The program expands opportunities for students living in other Southern states, too, and the number of out-of-state students coming to Kentucky through ACM has been growing. In 2007, 66 students were certified to participate in ACM programs here; five years later, in 2011, 112 students were certified to attend programs in Kentucky.

The Council on Postsecondary Education’s website includes a list of approved programs at cpe.ky.gov/policies/academicinit/sreb/acm.htm. CPE’s site also details program requests denied, along with reasons for denial, a very helpful set of notes for those pondering a request. Students interested in programs not yet listed as approved may request a review; the program must be at least 50 percent different from any offered in Kentucky.

To participate, students must complete an application and provide proof of residency in Kentucky as well as a letter of admission to the specific approved program. The state ACM office then determines if the student qualifies. Receiving institutions then track continuing eligibility, which could hinge on full-time versus part-time status, GPA, state of residency and/or change of major.

Out-of-state programs that attract the most Kentucky ACM students include:

• BS, recording industry, Middle Tennessee State University;

• BS, marine science, Coastal Carolina University;

• BS, marine science, University of South Carolina;

• BS, aerospace engineering, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa;

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