Understanding the Academic Common Market
This was by far one of the best surprises I had throughout my CRNA application process...
Let me share the love!
Within the Southern Regional Education Board, there is a program called the Academic Common Market. This program allows residents from selected "southern" states to pay in-state tuition for out-of-state public schools, but only if their home state does not offer that specific program.
How does it work?
First, your home state and which ever state your are accepted in must both be a part of the Southern Regional Education Board. There are 15 participating states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentky, Louisiana, Maryland, Misissippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Second, your program of interest cannot be offered in your current home state. For instance, my home state is Georgia and my program of interest was UTHSC's (University of Tennessee Health Science Center) DNP Nurse Anesthesia program. Georgia has an MSN program, but not a DNP. Because of this, I qualified for the Academic Common Market.
Third, you must be accepted into your desired program. Once you are accepted, you can submit all your paperwork to your home state's ACM (Academic Common Market) coordinator. By the way, you'll actually have to send in a copy of your acceptance letter. Now, something that is a little misleading... If you look on the website, you might not see your school or the program. Don't be discouraged.
I'm not going to lie, I freaked a little when I didn't see my DNP CRNA program offered. So I personally emailed Georgia's coordinator and asked her if my program could be considered since Georgia does not currently offer it. She said yes and submitted a formal request for me. The very next day I found out my program was approved pending my ACM paperwork.
Fourth, you will have to submit your paperwork in a timely matter. The sooner the better. And just an FYI, you will have to take papers to your county court house and hunt down a judge to sign the papers for you. You'll also have to get the papers notarized before you can submit them. Luckily, there's always a notaror in a court house; however, it still took me an entire day because my county court house happens to be the nine story, downtown Atlanta, Fulton County court house... it was seriously a maze and I was directed to the wrong area over and over again and it seemed like even the people who worked there had no idea what I was asking for. It also took hours to find an available judge to sign my papers. I actually had to sit in during an unpleasant and nasty divorce and wait for the judge to take a recess break before I could ask her to sign my papers. Haha, talk about awkward!
Now, once all your papers go through and both parties have agreed/approved you for ACM, the hard part is over! But you'll notice every time you apply for financial aid, you'll automatically be pre-approved for the out-of-state amount. This really confused me at first and unfortunately caused me to call UTHSC's ACM coordinator and financial aid office several times for clarification. You can only imagine how annoyed they were with me, haha! But twenty calls later, I now understand the process!
The Financial Aid office explained it best. Since I am technically out-of-state, I will always be pre-approved for the out-of-state amount. But once I'm registered for classes and am able see how much I'll owe for the semester, I'll be able to accept however much of my student loans I need.
Just to give you an idea of how much money this program is saving me in student loans... ACM saves me between $5,700-$8,600/semester, depending on the semester. In total, it'll save me approximately $68,000! Of course, every school is different in their tuition and UTHSC just happens to be very expensive for out-of-state students. But with all that said, I would highly encourage every nurse applying to CRNA school who may potentially qualify for this program to apply! I'll post a link to the ACM website below...