In Tennessee, about a third of working-age residents have a college degree. In a few counties, the college degree rate drops to fewer than one in 10. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam thinks that's a fundamental economic problem in the South worth trying to fix.
Though money is a factor, government officials cite an even bigger barrier: students don’t necessarily see why they need a college education.
Kevin Brown is a senior at Hickman County High School. It’s a county where 92 percent graduate from high school and few go any further. "It’s our life," says Brown. "We can do what we want."