College Costs Overview for Alabama residents – Free version

Alabama college costs

2022/23 Academic Year

College applicants and their families face not just a big life choice and the challenge of being accepted to schools, they face a complicated maze of information on how much their college career will cost.  This report will allow you to know the true costs of colleges, so that you can finance a college degree and set up a successful post-graduate life.

  • Apply to colleges which you know you can afford
  • Plan financially and save and borrow the right amount to fund costs across all years of the program
  • Once accepted, better understand the financial context of your financial aid offer and the scope for any negotiations with the college on their proposed cost

This report also provides some of the basics on how the prices you will pay for colleges are set as well as objective cost data about popular schools for students residing in your state.  These numbers are based on reported figures by the colleges themselves with projections to account for future price changes.  

The information will not indicate exactly how much each student will pay your college.  But it will give a broadly accurate and readily understandable general idea, allowing you to compare colleges in financial terms and to plan for a successful college journey.  

How college costs work

  • Advertised college tuition prices are often far higher than what the typical student pays. Many colleges offer significant discounts to this headline tuition depending on an applicant’s
    • family financial income & assets 
    • demographics 
    • academic record
    • and decisions made by the college’s admissions or enrollment offices
  • Comparing college costs on an apples-to-apples basis is difficult and time consuming. College net price calculators are often outdated and don’t reflect true costs.
  • When an applicant is accepted to a college, they will receive a financial aid award letter highlighting what their costs will be if they enroll.  These awards all differ by student.
  • Cost information provided by colleges and other sources often deduct loans from the cost, unlike most other consumer purchases you make
  • Most state colleges and universities have essentially two pricing processes, one for in-state and one for out-of-state students.  
  • Applying early increases your chances of getting into a given college but also increases your cost by lowering, often significantly, the amount of financial aid you will be offered.


  • Average costs for popular in- and out-of-state schools
  • College pricing and the Expected Family Contribution 
  • Ways to reduce college costs
  • Scenarios showing projected costs by college for 7 representative families with different incomes and financial profiles
  • Online or Distance Schools
  • Glossary

In-state colleges, by average cost

The average net cost found here represents a projected average amount entering freshmen will pay for tuition, room & board, fees, books & other course materials.  Net costs are not reduced by loans, which represent an obligation and are not a price reduction.  The analogy here is buying a house or condo, where the cost is not reduced because you take out a mortgage to finance the purchase.  

Notes on figures

  • Net cost is a consumer-centric metric comparable to what cost means in business transactions outside of higher education.  It represents a student’s cost of attending college including: tuition, room & board, fees and estimates of supplies less institutional aid of all kinds (including need-based and merit), and less federal and state/local aid.  Loans and other repayable amounts are excluded and do not reduce the cost.  Room and board uses on-campus costs; for students attending nonresidential institutions, the college’s own estimate of such off-campus costs is used.  Total average net cost for all students allocates in- and out-of-state costs in proportion to attendance.  Net cost differs from the Net Price figure self-reported by colleges to the NCES because it is comprehensive and covers all students, including the approximately 40% not covered by Net Price calculations.
  • CC = Community College
  • Number of undergraduates represent all enrolled full-time students as of 2018/19.
  • % of Applicants admitted from 2019/20.  
  • The SAT score is intended to give a very rough idea of the academic level of entering students.  This number shows the 25thpercentile of enrolled students out of 100% and adds together the verbal and math SAT and ACT scores using the ACT/SAT concordance formula developed by ACT and the College Board.  The maximum possible score is 1600.
  • The “% of students receiving discounts” is the 2018/19 figure showing what % of enrolled students are receiving price discounts from their colleges.  This % does not include aid from the government, such as Pell grants, or other federal or state aid.  It also does not include students borrowing to pay for college.
  • These comments all apply to tables later in this report except where noted.

Join our membership and you can proceed to the full report with family income scenarios, popular out-of-state schools and cost information about online education.