Alabama is below the national average in the percentage of its adult (over 25 years) population with a high school diploma or a college degree (Figure E1).
Figure E1. Educational Attainment in Alabama 2000. (US Census Bureau)
By both measures, educational attainment is greater in the urban areas (Figure E2). Many of the counties with lower educational attainments are also those rural counties with low population densities.
Figure E2. Percent of Adult Population (over 25 years) with at least a high school degree. The four black circles are from N to S Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile. (Cartographic Research Laboratory, Dept. of Geography, University of Alabama)
In 2003-2004, Alabama spent $6,351 (including Federal, State and Local contributions) per K-12 student, and ranked 43rd in the nation in per-pupil expenditure. This amount varies dramatically from school district to district, depending on the amount of local support. In 2003-04 total expenditure per pupil ranged from $8,883 in Homewood (Jefferson County) to $5,209 in Elmore County. Although state expenditures were about the same ($3,918 and $4,153), the difference was due to local taxes: $3,753 in Homewood and $343 in Elmore County. (The rest was Federal money.)
Higher education is readily available to Alabama residents.
Forty-two of the sixty-seven counties are home to at least one junior
or four-year college. No student is more than 50 miles (as the crow
flies) from an institution of higher education. In 2003 Alabama spent
17.3% of its budget on higher education, well above the national average
Figure E3. Location of Public Higher Education Institutions in Alabama 2005.