Who Could Really Use Academic Common Market?
Insights from SREB's Student Demographic Analysis

Blog post Jahana Martin Melissa Juarez

A high school student wants to earn a college degree in a specialized field, but there isn’t a university in their home state that offers that degree. This student is also facing other challenges, including financial hardship, that prevent attending an out-of-state school. What options are available to make this degree more attainable?

The Academic Common Market is a tuition-savings program that allows students to pursue certain academic programs not offered in their home state at in-state tuition rates in any of the 15 participating SREB states. How many students who need this help are aware of this opportunity, though?

In our report, Academic Common Market Student Demographic Analysis, SREB’s Melissa Juarez analyzes the demographics of the primary participants in ACM and also identifies the student populations that would benefit from more awareness of this program. 

Who is participating in ACM?

Between 2011 and 2023, 34,918 students were certified in the Academic Common Market program across the Southern region. The typical ACM students live in suburban, predominantly white, middle-income areas, with a smaller representation from low-income, rural and racially and ethnically diverse areas. On average, students participating in the ACM program from middle-income areas have been more than four times higher than those from either lower- or upper-income areas.

Who is missing out?

During the 2022-2023 academic year, certifications for ACM students from middle- and upper-income areas increased more rapidly than for students living in lower-income areas, highlighting that students from low-income areas have not rebounded from the pandemic at the same rate as their peers.  

The percentage of students from lower-income areas is now lower than it was just before the pandemic, despite the previous 10-year trend of increasing representation from this demographic. 


Juarez’s research underscores the prevalence of suburban and middle-class students in the ACM program. In addition, this report highlights the importance of initiatives aimed at broadening access for low-income communities, ensuring that more students can benefit from the ACM and the need to engage rural students in this program.

Next Steps

After hearing Juarez’s presentation on the report, ACM state coordinators committed to collecting and monitoring additional data and exploring more ways to reach rural and low-income students.

Stay tuned as we share fresh ideas from our Academic Common Market Annual Meeting to create awareness of ACM for the students who need it.

Find the full brief, its summary and participating institutions and states in ACM on SREB.org.