Why Choose a Public College or University in Alabama?
Choosing a college is one of the most critical decisions in a person's life. In Alabama, there are many top public and private colleges and universities to choose from.
A public college or university education provides many benefits, including an enriching campus experience with many activities and cocurricular programs from which to choose. Public colleges and universities typically charge less tuition than private schools, making public education a more accessible and affordable option for many students.
However, some students might not thrive at a public college or university. Some learners need or want more attention and personalized advising from instructors, which they can more easily access at a private school with smaller class sizes.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), students in Alabama can choose between 19 public four-year colleges and universities. The state of Alabama also belongs to the Academic Common Market and has a regional reciprocity agreement with other Southern states, which offer comparable tuition rates. According to a 2022 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center survey, over 60% of Alabama college students in the fall 2015 cohort completed their degrees within six years.
Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in Alabama
Students at public colleges and universities in Alabama tend to pay less tuition than private school attendees.Public schools typically offer more degree programs and majors.Students usually gain more access to research facilities and opportunities.Public colleges and universities typically offer more cocurricular activities and programs, contributing to more enriched higher education experiences.
Students do not get as much access to scholarships and federal grants as private school learners.Larger class sizes can mean getting less attention from instructors and student services staff.Students who do not thrive in independent learning environments might prefer private college settings.Private institutions often enroll more diverse students, including individuals from other countries.
Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in Alabama
All public colleges and universities are nonprofit institutions. Private institutions may be nonprofit or for-profit. Nonprofit schools obtain their funding from tuition, state and federal governments, endowments, and donations. They primarily serve to educate the public, with boards of trustees and education administrators typically undertaking their management.
In contrast, private for-profit schools exist to make money for their shareholders and investors. They receive their funding primarily from tuition and fees. Graduates of these schools generally experience lower employment rates than students from nonprofit institutions.
These schools also do not typically hold accreditation, creating challenges for students who want to transfer credit hours to other institutions. According to NCES, 21 private, for-profit schools exist in the state of Alabama.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public College or University in Alabama?
According to NCES, in-state students at public four-year institutions in Alabama paid an average of about $10,320 in tuition and fees during the 2019-2020 academic year. Out-of-state tuition at the same schools averaged roughly $26,520 during the same year. NCES also reports that room averaged $5,700 and board, $4,470.
According to NCES, in 2021-2022, in-state students paid about $26,420 for tuition, fees, room, and board at Auburn University, one of Alabama's most expensive public institutions. In contrast, one of the least costly schools for in-state students the same year was Auburn University at Montgomery, which charged $16,230 for tuition, room, and board.
Although public school students typically save money on tuition, they still need to consider other college-related expenses, such as student services, on-campus healthcare, technology, books, and supplies.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in Alabama
How many public colleges and universities are there in Alabama?
The state of Alabama hosts 19 public four-year colleges and universities, which enrolled over 170,000 students during the 2020-2021 academic year, according to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
According to NCES, the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is one of the biggest schools in the state, with an undergraduate student body of more than 31,000. This school ranks highly in the nation among other public institutions, along with Auburn University, Jacksonville State University, and Troy University.
What is the most expensive public college or university in Alabama?
Auburn University is one of the most expensive schools in Alabama. In-state students pay over $26,000 each year in tuition, room, and board. Although public higher education typically costs less than private institutions, it is often still a significant investment.
College has become increasingly expensive in the last several decades. Rising tuition, growing administrative costs, and state and federal funding decreases have contributed to theseincreased costs.
What is the least expensive public college or university in Alabama?
Auburn University at Montgomery is one of the least expensive public universities in Alabama, costing a total of $16,228 each year in tuition, room, and board.
Because they receive federal and state funds, endowments, and private donations, several public four-year colleges can offer many students an affordable education. Individuals can apply for scholarships, financial aid, and other programs to defray the cost of higher education.
What is the biggest public college or university in Alabama?
Among the big public schools in the state, the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa boasts the largest enrollment, with more than 31,000 full-time undergraduate students.
This school was founded in 1831 as Alabama's flagship university. As the oldest public four-year institution in the state, the University of Alabama consists of 12 colleges and schools and offers more than 70 undergraduate programs.
Is a public college or university right for me?
A publiccollege or university education can be an affordable and viable option for many students, especially individuals who cannot afford to go to a private institution. In addition to lower tuition and other costs, public schools tend to offer more majors and degree programs, which might suit students who are unsure about their academic and career goals.
Also, many of the best public schools in Alabama provide ample cocurricular activities and groups that students can join to enhance their college experiences.