The Academic Common Market (ACM) is a unique tuition-savings program that is available for qualifying college students who live in one of the 15 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states. The program essentially minimizes out-of state tuition barriers for students from participating states. For almost 40 years, the ACM program has enabled students to earn out-of-state college degrees at in-state tuition rates.
Who qualifies for the ACM?
In order to qualify for the ACM, students must be residents of an SREB member state. Past and current participating states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Texas and North Carolina only participate at the graduate level.
Qualifying students simply select a pre-approved ACM participating program that is not available in their state and they will be unconditionally accepted. Even though there are meet state residency and college program requirements, the ACM is not competitive or based on merit. The SREB administered ACM program strives to qualify as many students as possible to offer them out-of-state tuition waivers.
How Does One Apply for the ACM?
The application process begins with eligible students completing and submitting the state’s ACM certification application. Once certified, the student will verify that their target degree program is not offered by a local college or university. After the student submits the documentation that verifies their state residency, the home state’s ACM coordinator team will determine their program eligibility for the target college. The ACM coordination unit also determines the certification dates for current and future terms.
Once students are successfully accepted by the ACM coordination unit, there is no need to reapply every year as long as the student is continuously enrolled in the institution, does not change majors and maintains their home state residency.
What Programs are Available through the ACM?
Depending on the time, there are 1,800 to 1,900 programs available for eligible students. In Texas, the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) offers out-of-state students the opportunity to study everything from accounting to air traffic control to Architectural Drafting and Architectural CAD. Texas A&M University offers over 300 participating programs and the University of Texas offers almost 100 ACM program. Regardless of the state, the ACM program includes community colleges, public universities, independent schools and a special category of health related institutions. Distance learning degree programs are offered through the ACM’s Electronic Campus program. The same eligibility requirements apply to the ACM/EC program, but certain professional degree programs are excluded, such as law, medicine and pharmacy.
Students should start the application process early because most Academic Common Market programs take two to three months to process applications, but new programs will take four to six months. Students should also be aware that if they decide to change their major before a new semester, they will most likely not be required to pay back the benefits received. Those who unexpectedly change majors during a semester may be charged out-of-state tuition rates for the semester studied.