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University of Alabama appears in these rankings:

20 Best Value Colleges for Students with Autism

15 Best Value Colleges and Universities in Alabama

While there may yet be no definitive answer as to why, it's an established fact that autism in children in the U.S. has been on the rise now for the past several decades. And while public schools are usually required by law to provide resources for students on the autism spectrum, as well as other special needs kids, trying to find a college for students with autism can seem like a rather daunting challenge. For high-functioning individuals dealing with the various types of autism, however, there are options, however limited. The University of Alabama is one such option. Located in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama is the state's flagship university and is home to more than 37,000 students annually. It also is one of the few schools in the nation offering help for students on the autism spectrum through its ASD Transition and Support Program.

University of Alabama Accreditation Details

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC) to award degrees ranging in level from baccalaureate to doctoral and specialist. In addition, many of the individual programs within the university and its various schools and departments are accredited by the appropriate professional accrediting agency.

University of Alabama Application Requirements

Students seeking to enter the University of Alabama as freshmen are considered for admission based on their high school GPA, their high school course schedule, and scores on the SAT or ACT. Students can present scores for either the older SAT or the new one, in place since March of 2016. In general, students should try for scores of at least 21 on the ACT, 1000 on the older SAT, math and reading sections only, or 1080 on the new SAT, and a GPA of at least 3.0 in college-prep courses in high school. The college-preparatory curriculum typically sought by the university includes four units each of English and Social Sciences, including World History, three units each of Math and Natural Sciences, including two with lab components, and at least one unit of a foreign language, and five additional units in academic courses. These five additional units can be used for further units in the foreign language of choice or further math or natural science courses, all of which will provide additional consideration by the admissions board.

In order for students to be accepted into the ASD Transition and Support Program, offered through the Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic, they must provide documentation of a diagnosis of high functioning autism, Asperger's syndrome, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). In addition, the student must first be admitted separately to the University of Alabama, a process over which the ASD clinic has no control or influence.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition rates are assessed per semester and are dependent on the student's status as an in-state resident or non-resident. In-state undergraduate students pay $5,390.00 per semester for a course load of 12 to 16 credit hours, while non-residents pay $14,050.00 for the same course load. Part-time tuition is assessed on a sliding scale that tops out at $5,175.00 for 11 credit hours for a resident student and $13,800.00 for the same number of credit hours for a non-resident.

Full-time graduate level tuition rates are the same amounts as undergraduate, although for a different number of credit hours. For example, resident graduate students pay $5,390.00 per semester for a load of nine to 15 credit hours, while non-resident graduate students pay $14,050.00 for this same load. Part-time rates for graduate coursework are also on a sliding scale, but top out at eight credit hours, with residents paying $4,670.00 for this load and non-residents paying $11,270.00 for the same.

Financial aid is available to offset the cost of higher education, whether it be for undergraduate or graduate level work. Students are advised to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and submit it as early as possible, specifying the University of Alabama as a school of choice. Students could receive aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and work study, or any combination of these. Any financial aid awarded is handled through the Student Financial Aid office at the university.

Finally, one of the things that make this a good choice of college for students with autism is the availability of the ASD Transition and Support Program, which has its own costs associated with it. The fees for this program are currently $3,600 per semester for the fall and spring semesters, and $1,100 for each summer term. These are billed as clinical fees to the students UA account. While standard financial aid channels do not generally cover this type of fee, payment plans can be arranged as needed. In addition, some students may be eligible for aid from Social Security and are encouraged to check with a local Social Security Office for further information.

ACD College Transition and Support Program: Making College for Students with Autism Achievable

Students on the autism spectrum who have been accepted to the University of Alabama may also apply and take advantage of this program to help cope with the transition into a college lifestyle. When first accepted, students are paired with a mentor/therapist who will meet with them an average of three times per week to offer support and provide services with academics, emotional well-being, social skills, and daily living. In addition to these meetings, students in this program are expected to complete at least four hours of study hall time in the UA-ACTS building, where the program is houses, and attend group meetings every two weeks.

Some of the services offered include organization skills and ways of using classroom time efficiently, appropriate ways to keep communication open with professors and to self-advocate for academic success, discussions about the social aspect of college life, counseling services as needed for emotional support, and advice and guidance regarding choosing majors and minors that would be the best fit for the students' career goals. Weekly phone calls are made jointly between each student and mentor and that student's parents, ensuring that parents are kept in the loop regarding the student's progress and any challenges he or she may be facing.

Being diagnosed as autistic doesn't have to limit one's choices for higher education. The University of Alabama is not only the flagship university within the state, offering numerous pathways and options for undergraduate and graduate degree programs, but it's also a place where students dealing with autism can succeed. UA has earned it's rightful reputation as an excellent college for students with autism.

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