Than the North. And Tennessee is one of the guilty parties. As others have noted, a few years ago, the state paid two-thirds of the cost of higher education and the student paid one-third. Now it's reversed. Now public institutions operate like they're private colleges with large state grants. From The Hechinger Report.
The new North-South divide: public higher education
Southern states have been disproportionately cutting spending on public higher education, forcing tuition increases that make their colleges and universities among the least affordable for the poorest families — who already face some of the nation’s highest poverty rates — a slew of recent data show.
This contributes to falling enrollment in states already struggling with some of the nation’s lowest percentages of residents with college educations.
It’s “a vicious circle,” said Dave Spence, president of the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB. “You’ve got a region that’s poor. Why? Because it’s undereducated.” Yet budget cuts keep pushing university and college degrees out of the reach of many.
Three of the five states that have most reduced their funding per public college and university student from 2008 to 2016 are southern, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research institute. Louisiana led the way among these southern states with a 39 percent decrease, followed by South Carolina and Alabama.
It’s “a vicious circle. You’ve got a region that’s poor. Why? Because it’s undereducated.”
Seven of the 20 states with the deepest cuts in higher-education spending are in the South, another report measuring funding decreases from 2010 to 2015 found. The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, or SHEEO, said Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia each decreased spending on public colleges and universities by at least 10 percent.
That means most of the states with the highest cost of college for families earning less than $30,000 a year are now also in the South, according to a new report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Research on Higher Education. In many of those states, about a quarter of the population earns that much or less.