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How the University of Alabama Became a National Player

With state funding now just 12.5 percent of the (University of Alabama’s) budget, campus leaders have mapped an offensive strategy to grow in size, prestige and, most important, revenue. The endgame is to become a national player known for more than championship football. Berkeley, the University of Michigan and University of Virginia are the schools “we compare ourselves against,” said Kevin W. Whitaker, Alabama’s interim provost,

Alabama has invested heavily to lure students like Ms. Zavilowitz, who does not qualify for federal financial aid. The university is spending $100.6 million in merit aid, up from $8.3 million a decade ago and more than twice what it allocates to students with financial need. It also has hired an army of recruiters to put Bama on college lists of full-paying students who, a few years ago, might not have looked its way.