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Delaware Higher Ed program could ease cost of college

State Higher Education Office Director Shana Payne assists a student at College Application month at Smyrna High School

For many families, college tuition can be a budget buster. That’s why the relative affordability of an in-state education can be so appealing. But the University of Delaware and Delaware State University can’t accommodate every field of study. So does that mean an aspiring Delaware actress would have to switch out drama for say, a business degree?


Not according to Shana Payne, Director of Delaware’s Higher Education Office. She says students should check out the Academic Common Market, a tuition-savings agreement among the 15 member states of the Southern Regional Education Board.

"They do have drama programs that are available for students looking to do that," she says. "So before they change their major, if their heart is in drama, I would encourage them to go on to the SREB website."  


And a quick search on that website shows Theatre Arts programs in four of the states that participate in the Academic Common Market.

The program allows students to pursue out-of-state college degrees not offered in Delaware at in-state tuition rates at more than 100 southern public colleges. But there are exceptions. Some institutions, like the University of Georgia and Auburn, only allow ACM participants for studies in junior and senior years and Florida and Texas only participate at the graduate level.

Five years ago, North Carolina left the market because of budget cuts but Payne says there’s little chance that could happen in Delaware.

"We are aware that as a very small state we have just two four-year public institutions," she notes. "So we want to make sure that Delaware students have as many options as possible and given the tuition savings, this is a really important piece of the financial aid offerings we have."
And those savings are not insignificant.
For example, a student attending West Virginia University would normally have to pay out of state tuition of roughly $21,000 a year but if they are in an eligible program approved through Academic Common Market, tuition would come to about $7600 a year.

In 2015, 94 state students were certified through the ACM.

In addition, the ACM/Electronic Campus offers some distance learning programs. There are currently two undergraduate and 20 graduate-level degree programs available to Delaware residents.

More information is available at

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