Higher Education in Maryland

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Higher Education in Maryland

ACADEMIC COMMON MARKET
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Maryland residents may submit applications only for programs listed in the current ACM inventory (see Undergraduate/Graduate ACM Programs for Maryland Residents). The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) is not accepting requests from Maryland residents for additions to the inventory of out-of-state programs available through the Academic Common Market (ACM). This restriction will remain in effect until further notice. It is the student’s responsibility for being informed of the ACM application process, for knowing the deadlines and ensuring complete and timely delivery of their application packages. It is neither the institution’s or MHEC’s responsibility to keep students informed.

The Academic Common Market was established in 1974 by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). The Maryland Higher Education Commission joined the consortium in order to offset the cost of higher education for Maryland students. Since then, thousands of students and parents have benefited.
 
Q. What is the Academic Common Market and what are the advantages?

A. The Academic Common Market (ACM) is a tuition-savings program that operates on the premise that if public institutions (private institutions can’t participate) in a student’s home state do not offer a degree program (undergraduate or graduate) that a student intends on pursuing, then he/she may attend a participating out-of-state institution offering the degree of interest through the ACM and be granted a waiver of out-of-state tuition charges. This serves as a cost-saving measure for both parents and students as in-state tuition rates are lower than out-of-state rates. It is also a savings for the state, as these programs do not have to be duplicated here in Maryland. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the state higher education agencies of the fifteen (15) participating states administer the Academic Common Market (ACM) and ACM/Electronic Campus (EC) programs.

The ACM is not a financial aid program and no money is exchanged between states.

Q. Which states participate in ACM?

A. The following states are partners in the ACM consortium and abide by the policies of the SREB: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. These states participate at the graduate level only: Florida, and Texas.

Q. Which institutions participate in the ACM?

A. Many, but not all, public colleges/universities in the 15 states offer programs of study in the ACM. See a complete list of colleges/universities that participate in the ACM on the SREB website: (http://home.sreb.org/acm/participating/institutionstates.aspx )
 
Q. Are all majors/programs at participating ACM institutions available for ACM access?

A. No, programs of study offered in the ACM are selected by the participating institutions at their discretion. Programs available at Maryland public colleges/universities will also not qualify for ACM access. These decisions can not be appealed.

Please see the current inventory of available Undergraduate/Graduate ACM Programs for Maryland Residents for a complete list. Maryland residents may submit applications only for programs listed in the current ACM inventory.

Q. Can I safely assume that all degree options, areas of specialization or concentrations within a certain ACM degree program qualify for ACM?

A. No, the concentration, specialization or option must be listed in the ACM program inventory for Maryland residents. At this time, MHEC is not accepting petitions from Maryland residents to add new out-of-state programs to the ACM inventory. This restriction will remain in effect until further notice. Maryland residents may submit applications only for degrees with concentrations, specializations and options that are currently listed in the current ACM inventory.

Q. Are available ACM programs subject to change?

A. Yes, participating colleges/universities may add or remove programs at anytime without notice. In addition, Maryland must remove ACM access to programs that become available at a Maryland public college/university. These decisions can not be appealed. Please Note: If a student has been certified for the ACM in a program that is removed from the ACM inventory, the student will be given reasonable time to finish their program with the ACM tuition benefit as long as they remain continuously enrolled full-time in the ACM program, remain in good academic standing (both defined by institution), maintain home state residency and make satisfactory progress toward the degree.

Q. Are distance learning a/k/a online programs available through the Academic Common Market?

A. Yes. Distance learning degree programs are available via the ACM Electronic Campus. The eligibility requirements for the ACM Electronic Campus are the same as those of the traditional ACM programs. For a list of programs see http://www.electroniccampus.org/student/scripts/termchoice/ptermchoice.asp

Q. Can I participate in the ACM if I’m a part-time student?

A. No. It is the State’s policy to require full-time status in order to qualify for ACM certification. Additionally, many ACM institutions require students to enroll full-time.

Q. Can I participate in the ACM if I’m pursuing a graduate certificate or continuing education credits?

A. No. The ACM tuition waiver is only available for degree programs at the bachelor or graduate levels. Associate degrees are not included for Maryland residents. The SREB guidelines also prohibit certificate and non-degree programs from inclusion in the ACM.

Q. Will my ACM participation affect my financial aid?

A. Reducing your tuition costs can decrease your eligibility for scholarships or need-based aid. However, your ACM tuition savings may be greater than the scholarships or need-based aid you are awarded. The ACM is not a financial aid program and no money is exchanged between states.

Q. Do I have to apply for the ACM or will I automatically qualify for the ACM if my degree program is not offered in Maryland?

A. Maryland residents interested in studying an out-of-state ACM program must file an ACM Application (DOC) with the State ACM Coordinator per the instructions by the deadline and be certified as a Maryland resident in order to receive in-state rates.

Q. Is there a deadline for the ACM application? Are applications accepted year-around?

A. Yes, the ACM Application and accompanying documents must be submitted to the State ACM Coordinator by the following deadline date(s):

Fall semester deadline - June 30th
Summer semester deadline - March 31st
Spring semester deadline - November 30th

*** ACM application deadline dates are firm and may not be appealed. ***
 
Participating institutions also have the right to set ACM deadlines. Students are strongly advised to contact the institution directly for this information.

Complete applications are accepted year-around as long as the application is submitted by the deadline for the semester the student is applying for.

*** To be considered timely, the ACM application must be submitted by the deadline with copies of the Maryland income tax return, drivers license, vehicle registration and military earnings statements/orders (if applicable) at the very least (see Section D of ACM Application). The program acceptance letter from the institution may be sent to the ACM Coordinator separately and after the deadline as long as the student filed an ACM application with all the other required documents by the cut-off date or the ACM application will be considered “late”. ***

“Late” ACM applications will be reviewed for the following semester.

Q. What are the ACM eligibility requirements?

A. In order to be eligible and receive the ACM tuition waiver the student must:

  • be able to prove that he/she is a resident of Maryland (see Section D of application)
  • be applying for a program listed in the current Maryland ACM inventory and available to Maryland residents
  • include a letter of acceptance into the specific program of study offered at the out-of-state institution on institution letterhead with the ACM Application (transcripts and proof of registration are not acceptable)
  • be enrolled full-time and remain in good academic standing (as defined by the institution) while pursuing the degree program
  • submit the ACM Application and accompanying documents by the deadline

    Students who have been “provisionally” admitted into an ACM major or who must complete coursework before they are fully admitted to the program are NOT eligible for ACM tuition benefits until they are formally accepted into the major.

    *** Participating institutions also have the right to set ACM restrictions. Students are strongly advised to contact the institution directly for this information. ***

    Q. How do I apply for the ACM and what is involved in the application process?

    A. The ACM application process varies from state to state. In Maryland, students need to follow these steps:

    1. Select an available ACM program/institution (Maryland residents may submit applications only for programs listed in the current ACM inventory)
    2. Get fully admitted to the ACM program major by following the admission procedures for the institution and program department
    3. Gather all required documents and attach to the ACM Application
    4. Fill out and mail/fax the ACM Application to the State ACM Coordinator at the address/fax number on the form by the deadline (limited to one (1) ACM application per student)

    Once a “complete” application is received, the State ACM Coordinator will:

  • verify the student’s residency, confirm the programs eligibility for ACM benefits and certify the student as a Maryland resident
  • notify the applicant and institution of the student’s eligibility/certification via mail within 4-6 weeks

    Once certified, the student will be granted an ACM tuition waiver. The institution will either grant a tuition waiver equal to the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition or simply classify the student as an in-state resident. The effective date of the waiver of out-of-state tuition will be the next full semester/session after certification. The waiver of out-of-state tuition can not be applied retroactively.

    Students who have been “provisionally” admitted into an ACM major or who must complete coursework before they are fully admitted to the program are NOT eligible for ACM tuition benefits until they are formally accepted into the major.

    Students who are certified into the ACM have met all eligibility and institutional requirements for granting in-state status including tuition and fees of the host ACM state. The ACM is not a financial aid program and no money is exchanged between states.

    Participating institutions also have the right to set ACM restrictions. Students are strongly advised to contact the institution directly for this information.

    Q. Can I submit the application online?

    A. You are encouraged to send the ACM application Attn: ACM Coordinator by first class “certified with receipt” mail or by FedEx/UPS to the address on the application. In the event the application is lost in the mail, a duplicate package may be submitted with proof of original postal date. The ACM application may also be scanned and emailed to Dr. Genevieve Segura at gsegura@mhec.state.md.us. Students are encouraged to email Dr. Segura with questions as opposed to calling due to staff cutbacks and to receive a faster response.

    For security purposes, the ACM application can not be submitted via the web.
     
    It is the students’ responsibility to know the ACM application process, to be aware of the deadlines and ensure the complete and timely delivery of their application packages. It is neither the institution’s or MHEC’s responsibility to keep students informed.
     
    Students are strongly encouraged to retain a copy of their application documents, including the final ACM certification letter, as all records will be destroyed for security purposes at the end of the student’s first semester of enrollment. It is the students’ responsibility to keep their ACM documents in a safe place.

    Q. What process takes place after my application has been submitted?

    A. Once a completed application is received, the State ACM Coordinator will verify the student’s residency, confirm the programs eligibility for ACM benefits and certify the student as a Maryland resident. The applicant and institution will then be notified of the student’s eligibility/certification via mail.

    Once certified, the student will be granted an ACM tuition waiver. The institution will either grant a tuition waiver equal to the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition or simply classify the student as an in-state resident. The effective date of the waiver of out-of-state tuition will be the next full semester/session after certification. For example, if a student applies during the fall semester, the waiver would not be effective until the spring semester. The waiver of out-of-state tuition cannot be applied retroactively and is applicable only for the institution, start date and program/degree specified in the ACM certification letter.

    For questions/issues about adjustments to the student account, please contact the campus registrar. MHEC does not intervene on institutional business. Students who are certified into ACM have met all eligibility and institutional requirements for granting in-state status including tuition and fees of the host ACM state. The ACM is not a financial aid program and no money is exchanged between states.

    Q. How long does it take to process the application?

    A. A “complete” application takes between four and six weeks to process. CERTIFICATION LETTERS CANNOT BE PRODUCED ANY SOONER as they are reviewed on a first in/first out basis. We ask parents and students to refrain from calling to request quick turnaround time on certifications as such calls absorb limited staff time devoted to ACM. Fall applications generally take approximately 6 weeks if received after mid-March.

    Although “complete” applications are accepted year-round, institutions set their individual deadlines for designation as an ACM student. It is the student’s responsibility to be informed (NOT THE INSTITUTION’S TO INFORM THE STUDENT) about filing the ACM Application, abiding by the deadlines and ACM Policies of Maryland, AND those of the Institution s/he plans to attend. To avoid delays, start the application process early and allow some extra time; especially during the busy seasons which occur in the weeks/months prior to the beginning of each semester.

    Q. When is the effective date of the ACM tuition waiver, and can a student receive the waiver retroactively for previous semesters of coursework?

    A. The effective date of the waiver of out-of-state tuition will be the next full semester/session after certification. For example, if a student applies during the fall semester, the waiver would not be effective until the spring semester.

    The waiver of out-of-state tuition can not be applied retroactively.

    Q. Once I’m approved for the ACM is it necessary to apply every semester or year?
     
    A. No, once approved you do not need to apply every semester/year as long as you:
     
  • remain enrolled full-time (defined by university)
  • do not change majors or institutions (even to another ACM major/institution)
  • remain in good academic standing (defined by university)
  • maintain home state residency

    *** Not meeting any of these requirements would cause the immediate termination of ACM benefits and the student would be billed for the out-of-state tuition differential for the semester the change was made.***
     
    *** If a student's eligibility changes, even if switching to another ACM program/institution, the student must apply for ACM benefits as a new applicant by the deadline and be recertified by the Maryland State ACM Coordinator.

    Please note: Participating institutions also have the right to set their own restrictions. Not all ACM intuitions allow students to participate in the ACM program as recertified or reinstated and the student will permanently lose their ACM benefits if eligibility requirements are not met. Students are strongly advised to contact the institution directly for this information. It is the student’s responsibility to remain informed about and abide by the ACM Policies of Maryland AND of the Institution they plan to attend. ***

    The ACM tuition waiver is applicable only for the institution and program/degree specified in the ACM certification letter. It is the student’s responsibility to remain informed about and abide by the ACM Policies of Maryland AND of the Institution they plan to attend.

    Q. What if my major is removed from the ACM list in the future? Will my residency revert back to out-of-state?

    A. No. If a program has been removed from the ACM inventory, students will be automatically “grandfathered” in under the agreement between the ACM states. Students will be given reasonable time to finish their program with the ACM tuition benefit as long as they remain continuously enrolled full-time in the ACM program, remain in good academic standing (both defined by institution), maintain home state residency and make satisfactory progress toward the degree. However, students who did not remain continuously enrolled, fell below full-time status or who were placed on academic probation at the time the program was removed, lose their ACM benefits.
     
    Q. I don’t have the program acceptance letter from the institution yet since they are waiting for me to finish my current courses. The letter may not be available until after the ACM application deadline and I don’t want to miss the cut-off date; or the institution says they will mail/fax the program acceptance letter to the ACM Coordinator separately. Can I submit my ACM application if it’s “incomplete”? Will my “incomplete” application be accepted if it’s submitted by the deadline?

    A. To be considered timely, the ACM application must be submitted by the deadline with copies of the Maryland income tax return, drivers license, vehicle registration and military earnings statements/orders (if applicable) at the very least. The program acceptance letter from the institution may be sent to the ACM Coordinator separately and after the deadline as long as the student filed an ACM application with all the other required documents by the cut-off date or the ACM application will be considered “late”.

    “Late” ACM applications will be reviewed for the following semester.

    Q. I don’t officially get admitted to my major until I am a junior and have completed other requirements; or I have been provisionally admitted into my major. Can I participate in the ACM now or must I wait?

    A. Since the ACM is based on specific programs of study, students must wait and apply until they are officially accepted into the program major, even though that may not be until their junior year. Students who have been “provisionally” admitted into an ACM major or who must complete coursework before they are fully admitted to the program are NOT eligible for ACM tuition savings until they are formally accepted into the major.

    Q. What if my parents (or I) have misplaced the Maryland income tax return which is required with the application?

    A. Copies for previous tax years can be requested by mail to the Comptroller of the Treasury, Revenue Administration Division, Annapolis, MD 21441-0001. Fax: 410-974-2967.

    Q. My parents (or I) had to file a tax extension so the most recent Maryland tax return is not yet available. Can I submit the Maryland tax return from the previous year?

    A. Yes. If your most recent Maryland tax return is not available you may submit the Maryland tax return from the previous year only. For example, if you do not have your 2011 Maryland tax return, you may submit your 2010 Maryland tax return but not your returns from 2009, 2008, etc. We are only interested in the first two pages of the return form and not the many schedules of deductions. Please remember that Federal tax returns are not required for the ACM application.
     
    Q. What if my parents (or I) prefer not to disclose our taxable earnings or social security numbers on our application?

    A. Students/parents may black out the dollar amounts for earnings and black out all but the last four (4) digits of social security numbers. All other identification must be legible. For information about confidentiality, see the ACM Policies and Procedures.

    Q. What will happen to my application file after I’ve been certified for ACM?

    A. ALL records will be destroyed for security purposes at the end of the student’s first semester of enrollment. It is the student’s responsibility to keep a copy of their application documents, including the final ACM certification letter, in a safe place.

    Q. What if a particular academic major is not on the ACM list of approved programs? Can I double-major? Are there any scholarships available for programs not offered in Maryland?

    A. Maryland residents may submit applications only for programs listed in the current ACM inventory. MHEC is no longer accepting petitions from Maryland residents to add new out-of-state programs to the ACM inventory. This restriction will remain in effect until further notice and can not be appealed.

    If you are interested in a program that is not on the Academic Common Market program list for Maryland, it may be because: (1) the program is offered at a public college/university in Maryland (see Maryland Degree Inventory), (2) the program is a high demand program, (3) the program is offered at a single tuition rate, (4) the college or university does not participate in the ACM or (5) state legislation may not allow for participation at all levels. Remember: programs of study offered in the ACM are selected by the participating institutions at their discretion. These decisions can not be appealed.

    The State of Maryland allows students to double-major and qualify for ACM benefits as long as the primary major area of study is an ACM approved program for Maryland residents and the college/university doesn’t have a policy against it. Participating institutions have the right to restrict ACM access to double-majors and students are strongly advised to contact them directly for this information. It is the student’s responsibility to remain informed about and abide by the ACM Policies of Maryland AND of the Institution they plan to attend; and not the institution’s responsibility to inform students about the application process, deadlines and rules.

    The State of Maryland offers scholarships for unique majors called the “Delegate Scholarship” and “Senatorial Scholarship”. These scholarships are strictly based on whether or not the student’s academic major is offered at a public or private university in Maryland and they can be used in conjunction with the ACM program. The “Delegate Scholarship” and “Senatorial Scholarship” are NOT related to the ACM program and the application process is entirely separate and distinct. Receiving the ACM tuition waiver does NOT guarantee that the ACM student will be granted the Unique Major Scholarship; nor does the Scholarship have any affect on a student’s out-of-state residency status. Procedures for receiving the “Delegate” or “Senatorial” Scholarship can be found at http://www.mhec.state.md.us/financialAid/descriptions.asp or by calling the Office of Student Financial Assistance at (410) 260-4565 or (800) 974-1024.
     
    Q. Can I appeal to have a discontinued ACM program reinstated?

    A. It is not possible to reinstate programs. Participating colleges/universities may add or remove programs at anytime without notice. In addition, Maryland must remove ACM access to programs that become available at a Maryland public college or university. These decisions can not be appealed and the decision to close ACM access or withdraw a program is final.

    Q. I have already been approved for ACM benefits but I now want to change to another ACM major and/or institution. Will my ACM benefits automatically continue?

    A. No. The ACM tuition waiver is applicable only for the institution and program/degree specified in your ACM certification letter. If you change majors/institutions out of your ACM-approved major/institution for any reason, your ACM benefits will be terminated and you will be billed for the out-of-state tuition differential for the semester the change was made.

    To change to another ACM major and/or institution you must apply for ACM benefits as a new applicant by the deadline and be recertified by the Maryland State ACM Coordinator.
    *** Please note: Participating institutions also have the right to set their own restrictions. Not all ACM intuitions allow students to participate in the ACM program as recertified or reinstated and the student will permanently lose their ACM benefits. Students are strongly advised to contact the institution directly for this information. It is the student’s responsibility to remain informed about and abide by the ACM Policies of Maryland AND of the Institution they plan to attend. It is neither the institution’s or MHEC’s responsibility to keep students informed.***

    Q. What happens when a ACM student falls below the institution's required grade point average (GPA), goes on probation but gets back in good academic standing; gets dismissed and reinstated, drops-out but returns full-time later; moves from Maryland to another ACM state; transfers to another ACM institution; or switches to another ACM major in the same institution?

    A. Any of these changes would cause the immediate termination of ACM benefits and the student will be billed for the out-of-state tuition differential for the semester the change was made. Should the student’s program be removed from Maryland’s ACM inventory while the event took place, ACM tuition benefits would no longer be available for that program.

    To have ACM benefits reinstated, the student must be recertified and apply for ACM as a new applicant and abide by the application deadline. The student must also be recertified and apply for ACM as a new applicant when switching to another ACM program/institution.

    *** Please note: Participating institutions also have the right to set their own restrictions. Not all ACM intuitions allow students to participate in the ACM program as recertified or reinstated and the student will permanently lose their ACM benefits if eligibility requirements are not met. Students are strongly advised to contact the institution directly for this information. ***

    Transfer students who begin studies at one institution with the intent to transfer to another ACM institution/program are not guaranteed ACM access. The ACM tuition waiver is applicable only for the institution and program/degree specified in the ACM certification letter.

    It is the student’s responsibility to remain informed about and abide by the ACM Policies of Maryland AND of the Institution they plan to attend. It is neither the institution’s or MHEC’s responsibility to keep students informed.

    Q. I have been denied ACM access. Is it possible to appeal an ACM decision?

    A. Applicants may appeal a decision by filing a written request to the Director of Academic Affairs within 30 days of the date of the decision letter. Documentation to support the appeal must be included with the letter in or the appeal will be denied. The Director’s decision is final.

    Q. I live in Maryland but within driving distance of the University in West Virginia. My major is offered at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus which is several hours away. Can I get in-state tuition in West Virginia since I live so close?

    A. No. Programs that duplicate those offered at public institutions in Maryland do not qualify for participation in the ACM, regardless of a student’s geographic location.

    Q. I don’t live in Maryland, but I really want to go to the University of Maryland. Am I eligible for ACM?

    A. Please check with the Academic Common Market Coordinator in your home state. For a listing of ACM participating states and their coordinators, go to Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

    Q. I live in New York and want to enroll in an ACM program at Morgan State University. How do I apply for ACM?

    A. The State of New York is not a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) ACM program. ACM partnering states are located in the Southern region of the U.S. Students from non-SREB/ACM cannot apply for ACM benefits but should contact their home state higher education board to find out about similar agreements in their region of the country.
     
    Q. Are there other ACM restrictions I should know about?

    A. Yes, restrictions can be set at the discretion of the participating institution and the participating state. Please see the ACM Policies and Procedures (PDF) and contact the institution directly. It is the student’s responsibility to remain informed about and abide by the ACM Policies of Maryland AND of the Institution they plan to attend. It is neither the institution’s or MHEC’s responsibility to keep students informed.

    Q. Can students contact the SREB with further questions about ACM?

    A. ACM students may contact Ms. Sojourner Marable Grimmett, Assistant Director, Student Access Programs and Services and Electronic Campus at (404) 879-5561; Fax: (404) 872-1477 or E-mail:sojourner.grimmett@sreb.org

    Electronic Campus students may contact Ms. Mary Larson, Associate Director, Electronic Campus, at mary.larson@sreb.org



     


     

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