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Academic Common Market to end in 2012

Graduate students from North Carolina will no longer have the opportunity to pay in-state tuition while attending out-of-state schools.

The Academic Common Market, a tuition-saving program for students who want to pursue degrees that are not offered by their in-state institutions, is being phased out because of budget cuts to the UNC system.

Beginning fall 2012, North Carolina will no longer participate in the Academic Common Market, said Morris Dean, the N.C. coordinator for the program.

The program is available for college students in 16 states that are part of the Southern Regional Education Board, a non-profit that works with states to improve public education.

“It is simply a way to make programs affordable,” Dean said.

Twelve UNC-system schools­, including UNC, participate in the program, which is funded by the N.C. General Assembly.

Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, said funding for North Carolina schools’ participation in the program is being eliminated as part of $414 million in budget cuts to higher education.

“The state doesn’t have as much money to spend,” he said. “We were faced with many priorities on what is most important in a university context.”

Dean said after the spring of 2012, students will not be able to enter the program, but students already in the program will be able to finish their degrees.

Undergraduate and graduate programs are available through the program, but North Carolina only participates at the graduate level, Dean said.

About 81 students from North Carolina are in the program, and 80 out-of-state students came to the state to study through the program this year.

To qualify for the Academic Common Market, a student must be a resident of a participating state and select a program approved by the state.

About 68 programs are offered in North Carolina, including Appalachian studies, gerontology and maritime studies.

Programs offered through the Academic Common Market are specialized, so the program helps eliminate unnecessary duplication among participating states, said Sojourner Marable Grimmett, assistant director of student access programs and services for the Southern Regional Education Board.

“It recognizes that it’s impractical for any institution or single state to maintain a degree in every field of knowledge,” she said.

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