Best Colleges in Alabama

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With over 80 collegiate institutions in Alabama, selecting the ideal path to pursue your higher education can seem intimidating. Prospective students need to choose between a two-year or four-year degree while also considering a multitude of factors, such as preferred field of study, tuition cost and scholarship availability. To facilitate your college search, we compiled a ranking of Alabama’s top colleges based on a variety of metrics and up-to-date data.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Alabama contains a diverse set of educational opportunities, with four-year colleges filling a variety of needs for the state’s 4.8 million residents. And while there are plenty of opportunities for higher education in Alabama, the state’s demographics don’t necessarily reflect that. According to the 2009-2013 census, only 22.6% of Alabama’s residents age 25 and up have a bachelor’s degree, versus a 28.8% national average. This gap means there are plenty of potential job openings for skilled and educated workers, and Alabama’s Board of Education is taking steps to make college a realizable opportunity for residents.

With government assistance programs such as the 529 Fund and Plan 2020 providing tuition grants and increased scholastic funding, Alabama hopes to increase the number of college educated workers in the job market and to make the state more attractive for potential job creating businesses. You can take advantage of these programs by starting with this list of the best four-year universities in Alabama.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

Samford University

 4/566.1%Birmingham, AL

campus-samford-university

Samford stands out among Alabama colleges due its breadth of programs, intimate class sizes, and high rate of graduate employment. The school offers over 150 undergraduate majors and concentrations, as well as graduate degrees in business, divinity, environmental management, music, public health, and more. Despite its global appeal, Samford keeps its class sizes intimate with a 13:1 faculty-student ratio.

The school offers quality internships that allow students to put their knowledge to practice. A notable 93% of Samford students are either pursuing a career or attending advanced programs of study within six months of graduation. Alumni include over 60 U.S. congressmen, seven state governors, multiple Emmy and Grammy award-winning artists, and recipients of the Pulitzer and Nobel Peace prizes.

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2

University of Mobile

 3/541.06%Mobile, AL

campus-university-of-mobile

UMobile is acclaimed as one of Alabama’s best colleges not only for its affordable cost, but also for its wide variety of academic offerings and 14:1 student-faculty ratio. As a private Baptist institution, strong Christian values are reflected in the lifestyle and curriculum of the university. In this tradition, the university offers areas of study that include such focuses as worship leadership and academic ministry.

The university's alumni roster includes MLB players J.C. Romero and Saul Rivera as well as former player and current coach Joe Espada.

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3

Auburn University

 2/570.86%Auburn University, AL

campus-auburn-university

What sets Auburn University apart from other colleges in Alabama? For starters, it’s one of the only institutions to be designated as a land, sea, and space grant university. It also offers over 140 majors of study and nearly 300 clubs and organizations to join, providing a diverse array of academic and extracurricular options to its student body.

With a passion for research and supporting veterans, the university's Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education helps the Walter Reed Army Medical Center train wounded soldiers to become cyber-security investigators. Auburn also has a strong history of global and community outreach, providing students opportunities to expand their civic engagement.

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4

Spring Hill College

 5/558.14%Mobile, AL

campus-spring-hill-college

The oldest Catholic college in the Southeast, Spring Hill College is an affordable and academically engaging option among Alabama colleges. With four years of guaranteed housing, students can worry less about where they’ll live and focus on their studies. Its picturesque campus features an 18-hole golf course and several buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

SHC students tend to gravitate toward such areas as science and math, business, and social sciences. However, a variety of academic disciplines spanning the humanities and arts are also offered. Those interested in taking their studies overseas have the option to attend the college’s Italy Center in Bologna or can choose to explore other countries of interest, including Ireland and Argentina.

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5

The University of Alabama in Huntsville

 2/546.14%Huntsville, AL

campus-the-university-of-alabama-in-huntsville

Unique among Alabama colleges for its high return of investment and exceptional research funding, students who attend the University of Alabama Huntsville are met with a variety of opportunities to become leaders in their chosen fields. The Office of Research partners with such national powerhouses as the U.S. Army, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the National Weather Service, allowing students to apply their knowledge to real world problems and advance their skills at an early stage.

Aside from academics, the university boasts the only Division I ice hockey team in the south as well as 18 other NCAA affiliated athletic programs.

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6

Birmingham Southern College

 5/564.22%Birmingham, AL

BSC stands out among Alabama colleges as it offers an engaging academic environment where students can study a variety of subjects in pre-designed programs or collaborate with faculty to design specialized majors that fits their individual interests. Special programs are also available to enhance the academic experience, such as the popular Exploratory Term. This program allows students to gain practical experience by connecting their studies to experiential learning opportunities both on and off campus for four weeks each January.

The college is located on a 192-acre campus where students can study and explore, and includes a beautiful lake and urban environmental park. Notable alumni include actress Kate Jackson, U.S. Representative Robert Aderhold, and former US Surgeon General Luther Terry.

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7

University of Alabama

 2/565.66%Tuscaloosa, AL

With over 600 National Merit Scholars currently enrolled and 11 recent graduates receiving the honor of Fulbright Scholars, the University of Alabama stands out as both a prestigious and academically rewarding option among Alabama colleges. The faculty is comprised of 30 National Science Foundation CAREER award-winners, and programs such as law and library and information sciences have ranked among the best in the nation.

Aside from the academic prowess of current students, past alumni include 15 Rhodes Scholars as well as 14 Truman Scholars. For those more interested in the gridiron, over 40 current NFL athletes graduated from the University of Alabama.

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8

Troy University

 2/534.98%Troy, AL

Troy University offers one of the best academic experiences among Alabama colleges for freshmen, transfer students, military members, and veterans alike. Those concerned with how past credits will play into their future programs of study can utilize the university’s free 42-hour transfer equivalency evaluation services.

Veterans and military members receive support and a sense of community through the campus’s TROY for Troops Center which offers academic and career service as well as counseling and connection with fellow military students. The university also provides a unique scholarship that limits the tuition rate for family and active members of the military, National Guard and Reserves.

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9

University of South Alabama

 2/538.24%Mobile, AL

The University of South Alabama shines among Alabama colleges for its innovative research and popular medical education program. Students benefit from hands-on experiences through the USA Medical Center, USA Children's and Women’s Hospital, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, and USA Physicians Group. Other popular majors include business, education, and engineering.

Students at USA enjoy a 116,000-square-foot recreation center, 17 NCAA Division I sports teams, and over 200 clubs and organizations. Those who enjoy spending time outdoors can stroll nature trails located across the sprawling 1,200-acre campus or travel to the nearby beaches of the Gulf shore.

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10

University of Alabama at Birmingham

 2/555.54%Birmingham, AL

Housing one of the largest academic medical centers in the country, UAB offers exceptional research and experiential learning opportunities to those seeking careers in the medical field. It is also one of only seven universities with a National Institute of Health designated center for AIDs research, allowing students to gain cutting edge research experience while helping solve real world issues.

Students can also engage in a wide variety of community service opportunities that span across academic disciplines, including over 160 service learning courses as well as unique arts and education initiatives that benefit the local community.

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11

Oakwood University

 3/543.71%Huntsville, AL

Originally founded in 1896 by the Seventh Day Adventist Church to provide educational opportunities to recently freed African Americans in the South, Oakwood University is a historically Black institution with a rich tradition in merging faith and academics. The university has 16 undergraduate departments that span such academic areas as arts, science, business, health, education, and religion. Students can also go on to pursue a graduate degree in pastoral studies through the department of religion and theology.

As the only Alabama college that serves as a member of the Adventist Colleges Abroad consortium, Oakwood University offers its students unique opportunities to study in such countries as Kenya, Austria, Argentina, and Spain.

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12

University of Montevallo

 2/544.38%Montevallo, AL

UM stands apart from other Alabama colleges for being one of only 27 public liberal arts colleges in the country and the only one of its kind in the state. It offers more than 75 degree options within the schools of fine arts, business, arts and sciences, and education. Past alumni include Tony award nominees, state senators, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MLB players and coaches.

With a National Historic District situated at the center of university and an original campus design created by the famous Olmsted brothers, Montevallo provides students with stunning natural spaces as well as an intimate learning environment; the student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1.

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13

Huntingdon College

 4/545.06%Montgomery, AL

Located in Alabama’s capital city of Montgomery, Huntingdon College offers a strong liberal arts core curriculum that lays the foundation for academic success in a variety of undergraduate majors and pre-professional programs. Students can participate in over 50 campus clubs and organizations, offering opportunities to explore individual interests and connect with the campus community.

Each student at Huntingdon is provided with a laptop for all four years of his or her education, helping cut costs and maintain equal access to educational resources. Study abroad opportunities are also offered at either no cost or minimalist cost, allowing all students the freedom to explore the world and broaden their horizons.

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14

Tuskegee University

 3/547.23%Tuskegee, AL

Tuskegee University makes the list of Alabama’s best colleges for both its cultural and academic accomplishments. This historically black university offers a variety of prestigious science and engineering programs and also houses a veterinary program that has educated over 75% of African American veterinarians in the worlds.

As a campus steeped in compelling history, Tuskegee is the only university in the nation that has been designated a National Historic Site. It is the site where the famous Tuskegee airmen trained, as well as the alma mater of notable alumni including National Book Award winner Ralph Ellison and first African American four-star general Daniel “Chappie” James.

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15

University of North Alabama

 2/538.87%Florence, AL

UNA offers over 60 undergraduate programs of study spread across four academic departments which include arts and sciences, nursing, business, and education and human sciences. The university stands out among Alabama colleges for its new Innovation Engineering program, which can be added as a minor to any discipline and provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be leading innovators in their chosen fields.

Founded in 1830, UNA is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the country. Past students include Pulitzer Prize winning writer T.S. Stribling, Grammy winning musician John Paul White, and a number of former and current NFL players.

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16

Auburn University at Montgomery

 4/521.94%Montgomery, AL

Located in Alabama’s capital city, AUM is noted among Alabama colleges for its commitment to academic rigor and student engagement. Popular undergraduate programs include business administration, nursing, liberal arts, and education. Unique programs of study include cyber systems and information security, geographic information systems, and homeland security. Classes are offered in a variety of formats to fit the needs of all students.

The nearby attractions of Montgomery offer students opportunities to engage in a number of cultural activities, including the internationally acclaimed Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the famous former dwelling of famous literary figures F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

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17

Judson College

 3/543.16%Marion, AL

Named after Ann Hasseltine Judson, the first American woman to serve as a foreign missionary, Judson College is unique among Alabama colleges for its focus on the education and social development of women through the tradition of Christian values. The college offers residential programs to women and distance programs to men and women, keeping true to its heritage while delivering quality academic programs to all students. The college offers over 20 undergraduate majors as well as 10 preprofessional programs, including such unique offerings as equine science and pre-seminary studies.

Each year, junior and sophomore students are paired with freshman students in the college’s Big-Little Sister program. The program concludes with a banquet in the spring semester, commemorating this campus tradition.

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18

University of West Alabama

 2/532.9%Livingston, AL

The University of West Alabama offers over 60 undergraduate programs and 10 graduate programs through its colleges of business, liberal arts, natural sciences and mathematics, and education. With early roots as a teacher’s college, education remains a popular major among the university's students.

Over 50 clubs and organizations are available across campus, ranging from academic to athletic interests as well as Greek life. Freshman are required to live in dorms for their first year in order to gain the social and educational benefits that come with on-campus living. Unique living-learning communities are also available to build a bridge between the classroom and the dorm room.

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19

Jacksonville State University

 2/530.09%Jacksonville, AL

With over 200 international students on campus representing over 60 countries across the globe, JSU shines among Alabama colleges for its ability to provide a multiculturally rich learning environment. The university has over 45 undergraduate degree programs, including unique options such as game development, which is offered through the department of computer science.

JSU is the only school in the country to hold NCAA titles in baseball, football, and men’s basketball. It also boasts an impressive alumni roster of student-athletes who have gone on to pursue professional athletic careers, including 2016 Masters Golf Tournament winner Danny Willett.

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20

Alabama State University

 2/526.32%Montgomery, AL

Founded by nine freed slaves seeking to provide educational opportunities to African Americans in Alabama after the end of the Civil War, Alabama State University holds a proud tradition of academic and civic engagement among Alabama colleges. As a historically black university with the student-centered approach to learning, all programs are built from the university's values of teaching, research, and service.

The university also offers a bridge program that helps to transition conditionally admitted students into the rigor of college academics. These students receive individualized support for an assigned retention specialist to help them stay on track and reach their academic goals.

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21

Alabama A&M University

 2/535.25%Normal, AL

Alabama A&M offers undergraduate students over 40 baccalaureate degree options with a 20:1 student-faculty ratio. In proud tradition with other Alabama colleges, AAMU was founded by former slave William Hooper Councill in 1875. Today, it provides a wide array of both academic and community engagement opportunities for almost 5,000 undergraduate students, with over 75% of the student body involved in community service initiatives.

AAMU’s campus was designed by famed New York Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and its NCAA Division I football team has served as the launching pad for current NFL players such as Robert Mathis and Frank Kearse.

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22

Faulkner University

 3/530.73%Montgomery, AL

Formerly known as Alabama Christian College, Faulkner University offers a faith-based education that serves to provide both academic and spiritual development to its student. Unique among Alabama colleges as a distinctly Christian university, emphasizing integrity of character and a holistic approach to education. Students and faculty attend daily chapel services most weekday mornings.

Faulkner offers a low tuition cost compared to the national average for private institutions, and with over 96% of students receiving financial aid, Faulkner offers an affordable education that includes intimate class sizes and over 30 undergraduate areas of study. Faulkner is also home to one of only three ABA accredited law schools in Alabama.

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In recent years, the Alabama Board of Education has placed greater emphasis on two-year educational programs in order to grow their skilled workforce. Over 459,000 Alabama residents are reportedly underemployed, meaning their occupation does not require a college degree. However, Alabama has a great demand for middle-skill workers, with over 70% of current job openings categorized as middle-skill positions. Two-year programs play an important role in filling this gap between underemployed and middle-skill workers, providing higher education for students at more affordable rates and focusing on vocational skills. These institutions prepare potential undergraduates for traditional four-year degrees, or they teach applicable and in-demand tradeskills.

While Alabama’s manufacturing and industrial fields provide solid employment opportunities for less educated citizens, the reality is that a higher level of education means substantially better wages in all fields of employment. The surplus of available jobs requiring tradeskills combined with the government’s recent emphasis on bridging the skills and education gap in the workforce means now is a great time to consider a two-year educational program. We have ranked the best two-year schools in the following list.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

J F Ingram State Technical College

 1/535.71%Deatsville, AL

campus-j-f-ingram-state-technical-college

J F Ingram offers academic and technical programs in more than 20 subjects and trades. Ingram is Alabama’s only community college to offer career training programs to incarcerated individuals — which it does at seven correctional facilities — and the school also provides live-work educational opportunities for carpenters, welders, and other tradesmen. The average cost of attendance is roughly half of what students pay at other public Alabama colleges.

Ingram students may earn dual high school and college credit through the Alabama Future Workforce Initiative (AFWI). The college also offers training for business programs, which provides vocational skills to help students find employment quickly.

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2

Wallace State Community College-Hanceville

 1/523.58%Hanceville, AL

campus-wallace-state-community-college-hanceville

WSCC is among the largest schools in the Alabama Community College System, offering more than 50 programs to roughly 7,000 students. Though most programs are in healthcare and technical career training, WSCC also offers dual-enrollment and accelerated programs for high school students, along with adult education and workforce development through Ready to Work and WorkKeys programs.

WSCC is known for its variety of majors and for attracting diverse adult and high school students on campus or online. Wallace students may transfer credits between approved campuses through the statewide STARS articulation agreement.

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3

Jefferson Davis Community College

 1/518.25%Brewton, AL

campus-jefferson-davis-community-college

JDCC has campuses in Atmore and Brewton. The school offers traditional academic majors, and is recognized among Alabama colleges for its emphasis in nursing and allied health programs. High school applicants may apply in advance for financial aid, and the college also accepts Pell Grant applications year-round.

Jefferson Davis also offers comprehensive career training services. Students may pursue technical certificates or trade-skill courses, including accounting technology and automotive body repair credentials. .

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4

Enterprise State Community College

 1/58.81%Enterprise, AL

campus-enterprise-state-community-college

Enterprise offers a variety of majors in art, science, and applied science. The college features career training programs in aviation through a partnership with the Alabama Aviation Center. ESCC offers online formats for dual enrollment, accelerated, and degree-completion programs. Financial aid is available through E.L. Gibson Foundation scholarships. Veterans and their spouses and families may be eligible for benefits through MyCAA; the college’s veterans department also organizes an annual Weevils for Warriors event.

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5

Reid State Technical College

 1/524.11%Evergreen, AL

campus-reid-state-technical-college

This rural college comprises three campuses in southern Alabama, serving a population of several hundred students. Though Reid offers more than 10 available programs, practical nursing students account for 40% of enrollees. Most credentials awarded at RSTC are short-certificates, followed by AAT awards and diplomas, respectively.

Over 60% of faculty at RSTC are full-time, most of whom hold a master’s degree or above. After nursing, popular majors include industrial electricity/electronics and computer information. Fittingly, RSTC is among the top Alabama colleges for online learning courses and programs. Military-friendly services at Reid include scholarships, apprenticeships, home loans, and vocational rehabilitation.

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6

Northeast Alabama Community College

 1/528.55%Rainsville, AL

NACC study options span six academic divisions and include technical training programs. Recognizing the need for STEM-related programs, NACC built a state-of-the-art mathematics, science, and engineering technology center, the first facility of its kind in Alabama. Students enrolled in an academic transfer program are guaranteed to have their transfer courses accepted. The campus includes a nature trail, a four-acre lake, and a new 22-station computer lab. Tuition at NACC is approximately 60% lower than at a comparable four-year program.

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7

Snead State Community College

 1/531.59%Boaz, AL

Snead State offers a variety of programs across a dozen departments, and the school is the oldest community college in Alabama to award an associate degree. SSCC offers hundreds of associate degrees and degree-completion courses and certificates. Nearly 2,300 students enrolled in 2013.

Snead also offers one of the largest distance learning programs in Alabama. In 2014, more than 44% of SSCC’s courses were available online or in a hybrid format, more than double the number of online courses in the entire Alabama Community College System. Popular majors include business, elementary education, and pre-nursing coursework.

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8

Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus

 1/59.52%Birmingham, AL

LSCC serves a student population of over 3,000. With two distinct academic and career/technical divisions, Lawson State offers a variety of programs to suit all types of students. Pre-nursing and air conditioning are the most popular programs for liberal arts and tech students, respectively. Lawson is a distinguished HBCU and Title III school.

LSCC was named a 2011 “Champion of Change” college by the White House, and the school hosted President Barack Obama in 2015. Lawson degrees and certificate programs emphasize business and technologies and health professions, and the school hosts many courses online.

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9

Central Alabama Community College

 1/513.97%Alexander City, AL

CACC offers associate degrees in science, applied science, and occupational technology, along with vocational training certificates. Opened in 1921 as a school of nursing, CACC’s nursing program remains a robust offering. The college offers more than 10 financial aid options, not including additional private scholarships and Veterans’ benefits.

Potential CACC Students transferring from an accredited institution can ensure their credits will transfer by downloading the STARS guide. CACC is known for its dual enrollment opportunities for high school students. CACC his home to approximately 1,742 students.

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10

H Councill Trenholm State Technical College

 1/523.15%Montgomery, AL

Trenholm State offers more than 25 programs in business and service career fields. Innovative programs include Trenholm’s therapeutic technologies degree, and its ten-week truck driving training program. Other popular fields include practical nursing and nursing assisting, among other health care offerings.

The college also caters to adult learners and dual enrollment students through Trenholm Online. Though students may only apply to one scholarship, Trenholm offers institutional, merit and career/technical scholarships. Additional benefits are available to students with disabilities. The college is designated as an HBCU and Title III school.

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11

Remington College – Mobile Campus

 3/556.96%Mobile, AL

Remington’s Mobile campus features six diploma programs and two associate degrees in technology and health care programs. Tuition at Remington is all-inclusive, and guaranteed to not increase for individual students for as long as they’re in school full-time. This model is unique among Alabama colleges, and includes textbooks and supplies in the cost of tuition. The relocated Mobile campus is the oldest of all Remington campuses.

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12

Alabama Southern Community College

 1/525%Monroeville, AL

ASCC is a rural community college system comprising four campuses across southwest Alabama. As of 2012, 72% of the school’s 1,321 students were enrolled in career or technical programs. The college offers associate degrees in the arts, sciences, and applied science, along with career training in a variety of fields, including practical nursing and technology.

Eighty-six percent of students at Alabama Southern receive financial aid. Like other trade colleges in Alabama, local businesses provide scholarships to ASCC students training for employment in the local workforce.

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13

James H Faulkner State Community College

 1/510.93%Bay Minette, AL

Faulkner State offers more than 100 available majors, more than 40 of which provide career and technical training. Faulkner also offers adult education and continuing education courses, and accelerated dual- and early-college-enrollment for high school students. Students can transfer credits from other accredited schools through the STARS program.

Faulkner State offers the lowest tuition prices in the state. The school also provides one of the broadest selections of financial aid awards and scholarships among colleges in Alabama. Options include field-specific institutional and memorial scholarships, along with athletic and cheerleading awards.

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14

Lurleen B Wallace Community College

 1/519.36%Andalusia, AL

LBWCC primarily serves students interested in career training and or industry prep coursework. Associate degrees and technical training programs emphasize business-information technology and allied health majors. Over 1,700 students enrolled at LWCC in the fall of 2015. During the 2014-2015 academic year, more students earned an AAS degree at LBWCC than other types of degrees or certificates. Popular programs include welding and industrial electronics.

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15

Marion Military Institute

 2/526.94%Marion, AL

MMI is one of only five junior colleges nationwide to offer military career training programs. One of the oldest colleges in Alabama, MMI now offers specialized military training, including the Army’s Early Commissioning Program and the Service Academy Prep Program. Students may also complete the first two years of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program here. Marion is regularly ranked as one of the top commissioning programs in the nation for the U.S. Army ROTC, typically commissioning around 40 men and women a year.

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16

Bevill State Community College

 1/516.63%Jasper, AL

Bevill focuses on intensive career-training programs that serve local industries. Over 3,500 students are currently enrolled, and as of fall 2015, 73% of them received some form of financial aid. BSCC offers more than 50 academic and career/technical programs in pre-professional sciences, health science, and education. Bevill also offers work-study opportunities, dual-enrollment discounts for high school students, and veterans and active-military benefits.

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17

George C Wallace State Community College-Dothan

 1/514.81%Dothan, AL

Wallace State serves a full-time student population of over 3,800. Wallace offers associate degrees and certificates in more than 12 academic and vocational disciplines. Popular subjects include liberal arts and humanities, along with family and consumer sciences. The college maintains two campuses and a Center for Economic and Workforce Development.

Unique among Alabama colleges, Wallace State’s institutional scholarships cover 100% of tuition costs and related fees. Though most scholarships offered through Wallace are merit-based, some are more exclusive, including awards for performing arts majors and students over 60 years old.

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18

Gadsden State Community College

 1/512.83%Gadsden, AL

Comprising six campuses, Gadsden State serves more than 8,000 students through its on-site and online courses and programs. Gadsden offers more than 75 academic and technical programs, emphasizing engineering and applied technologies. GSCC’s health sciences concentrations, such as therapeutic massage therapy, are some of the most innovative programs found in Alabama’s community colleges.

GSCC offers more than 50 scholarship opportunities. Financial aid is also available for student-athletes, high school students in dual-enrollment programs, and military veterans and their families.

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19

John C Calhoun State Community College

 1/512.66%Tanner, AL

Calhoun is among the largest two-year schools in Alabama, and is the 6th-biggest college in the state; JCSCC’s nursing and allied health programs combined have over 1,000 students. Overall, Calhoun offers more than 50 areas of study in academics and vocational training.

Calhoun is home to the largest high school dual-enrollment student population in the state. Students at Calhoun are considered for all available institutional scholarships based on a single application; “automatic” scholarships are offered to graduates in the top 2% of their high school class, or those with an ACT score of 27 or higher.

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20

Northwest-Shoals Community College

 1/511.51%Muscle Shoals, AL

Shoals Community College is one of two NW-SCC campuses serving a student population of nearly 4,000. NW-SCC is among the most comprehensive colleges in Alabama for its workforce and career tech programs in occupational technologies and allied sciences. Most students pursue short-term general certificates in occupational training, including an EMT offering and various technology programs.

NW-SCC awarded more than 25 foundation scholarships and nearly 500 full or partial scholarships during the 2014-2015 academic year. Students must complete one NW-SCC financial aid application for all potential scholarships. Through Alabama’s Ready to Work initiative, students may be eligible for a free 3-credit college course at NW-SCC.

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21

Southern Union State Community College

 1/515.76%Wadley, AL

This public college comprises three campuses and serves a student population of more than 5,000. SUSCC is known for specialized career training and health sciences and healthcare education. SUSCC offers more than 20 technical programs. Southern Union State offers several merit-based scholarships for all students. Awards are also available for fine arts majors and athletes.

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22

Chattahoochee Valley Community College

 1/511.86%Phenix City, AL

Chattahoochee Valley hosts just over 1,800 students in Phenix City. CVCC offers nine divisions of study, including health sciences and workforce development. The college emphasizes veterans’ services, employing an on-campus certifying official and full-time staff at the Army Education Center at CVCC-Ft. Benning, GA. CVCC offers merit scholarships for academics, career programs, performing arts, athletics, and adult education.

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23

Jefferson State Community College

 1/54.89%Birmingham, AL

Jefferson State serves a student body of nearly 15,000 students across four campus locations. JSCC provides more than 33 occupation-oriented training programs, and the school’s health sciences and nursing programs are among the most popular disciplines. More students graduate in nursing from Jefferson State than any other school in Alabama.

Jefferson State offers academic scholarships, as well as other awards to non-traditional and transfer students. The college features more than 120 transfer programs and is renowned in the state for its extensive distance education offerings. The current president is also a JSCC alumnus.

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24

George C Wallace State Community College-Selma

 1/520.21%Selma, AL

Popular programs at WCCS include business administration and computer science. The school offers six associate degrees and certificate programs, including nursing, technology and criminal justice. Wallace offers scholarships to a variety of students, including transfer students and merit-based awards. The college serves more than 1,700 students locally, and has worked to extend educational opportunities to students throughout the western part of the state.

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25

Shelton State Community College

 1/511.63%Tuscaloosa, AL

SSCC serves a student body of almost 5,000. With more than 20 available academic and technical programs and majors, SSCC offers a variety of academic pathways to students with diverse interests. SSCC also offers a larger selection of vocational education opportunities than other Alabama colleges, with a truck driving program and other specialized workforce training courses.

Veterans benefits are available for service members, spouses and dependents through the SSCC Office of Disability Services and the SOAR Institute. The college co-founded the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame to honor native Alabamians-turned performing artists.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Alabama, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Yellowhammer State.

Located in the southern corner of the United States, Alabama covers 52,419 square miles and is rich with history and culture. The state contains a diverse selection of climates and terrains, from the southern sandy beaches along the gulf of Mexico to the Appalachian Mountain Range located in the northeast. With over 65% of the state’s terrain considered forest, Alabama has plenty to offer in terms of National Parks and natural reserves. Alabama is also home to some of the most fervent college football fan in the country, putting it high on the destination list for sports fanatics.

Living in Alabama can pad your savings account, as the cost of living is about 12% lower than the national average. However, low cost of living generally means lower wages and salaries, and Alabama has the 42nd lowest per capita income in the country. But the diverse lifestyles, urban, rural and plenty in between, means there is something for everyone in Alabama.

Regional Spotlights:

Northern Alabama

  • Major Cities: Huntsville, Decatur, Florence
  • Attractions: Appalachian Mountains, US Space & Rocket Center, Bankhead National Forest
  • Cost of Living: Huntsville’s Numbeo Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: Alabama A&M University, University of North Alabama, Athens State University

Central Alabama

  • Major Cities: Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Auburn
  • Attractions: Mount Cheaha, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
  • Cost of Living: Birmingham’s Numbeo Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: University of Alabama, Stillman College, Shelton State Community College, University of Auburn

Southern Alabama

  • Major Cities: Mobile, Dothan
  • Attractions: Battleship Memorial Park, Fort Conde, Gulf State Park
  • Cost of Living: Mobile’s Numbeo Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: University of Southern Alabama, Alabama Southern Community College

Residency

Once you have decided Alabama is the ideal place to continue your education, your next step should be to consider establishing residency. This is always an important decision when preparing to enroll in college, as tuition costs for in-state students are substantially lower. As with other states, the process for obtaining residency in Alabama depends on various factors.

For Minors:

In Alabama, persons under the age of 19 are considered minors, rather than 18, as is customary in most states. Residency status for minor students is determined by the residence of a student’s ‘supporting person.’ If you don’t have a parent or guardian living in Alabama, it will be very difficult to obtain residency as a minor.

For Adults:

If you are over the age of 18 you may be able to qualify for residency status, but it is not a simple task in Alabama. You do not become a resident simply by living in Alabama for 12 or more months as a student, and you will not be eligible for residency if you moved to Alabama with education as your primary purpose. Residency for tuition purposes in Alabama is based almost entirely on whether or not your permanent domicile is in-state and being a student does not count as being a resident. If you are under 24 and do not have a parent or guardian living in Alabama, you will most likely be unable to receive residency.

Additional Resources for Alabama College Students

College Savings

Education Nonprofits

Higher Education News

Official State Links