ALABAMA — Alabama’s state universities are all struggling with a budget crunch.
But the state is also home to one of the nation’s highest concentrations of science students, with about 1,300 students enrolled in the state’s top-ranked colleges and universities.
The Associated Press obtained data from Alabama State University and the University of Alabama to compile a ranking of the state-run institutions, based on enrollment and the cost of attendance.
The AP ranked the institutions based on the cost per student per year for the fiscal year ending March 31.
The University of Arkansas ranked No. 8 on the AP’s list, with a $22,000 annual budget, compared to $23,000 for the University at Birmingham, a public institution.
The University of Mississippi was at No. 11, with $27,000 a year, but the school reported that it has about 6,000 students.
The state’s two universities, the University for Southern Christians and the Alabama Baptist University, are also ranked in the top 10.
The AP said it looked at state funding levels and the amount of funding received by state-operated colleges and Universities.
State lawmakers have appropriated nearly $8 billion in new money since 2016 to fund public colleges and public universities, but much of that money is not accounted for in the annual budget.
A recent analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated that about $2.5 billion is needed annually to provide state schools with the same level of funding as they received in the previous fiscal year.
The Legislature also is reviewing some state funding rules that limit how much the state can spend on its universities, including a $3,000 cap on the amount state agencies can spend per student.
The Legislature approved $1.8 billion for schools in 2018.
Alabama’s universities and colleges account for about 6% of the overall U.S. population and have grown more than 8% since 2000, according to the U.N. Population Division.
In the past decade, the number of students has more than doubled.
The universities are grappling with an economic crisis.
The cost of living in Alabama is $3.90 per hour, according the AP.
A year ago, students were spending more than $20,000 per year on tuition.
Last year, that number jumped to $34,000.
In 2016, students spent $1,837,000 on student housing and other living expenses, compared with $2,921,000 in 2013, according a report from the Associated Press.
About 80% of students were living in dormitories.