A New Majority Update: Low Incomes Students in the South and Nation

2013 - A New Majority Update- Low Income Students in the South and Nation finds that low income children are a majority of students in the public schools of 17 states across the nation - and 13 of those states are in the South.  The report warns that this continued trend in both the South and the nation raises the prospect of "entrenched, inadequately funded educational systems that enlarge the division in America between the haves and have-nots."

In addition, the SEF report finds:

  • Half or more of the public school children in two regions --the South and West-- are low income, and a near majority of all students across the nation are low income (48 percent);
  • Over the last 10 years, the number of low income students have grown 3-4 times greater than the growth of per pupil expenditures in 3 of the 4 regions of the country;
  • During the last decade, while achievement scores have increased for most student groups, huge gaps still remain between low income and higher income students-- particularly in regions where less is spent on students; and
  • The achievement gap between low income and higher income students is as large or larger in private schools as in public schools.

These findings update a 2007 report released by SEF, A New Majority: Low Income Students in the South's Public Schools.  It documented how low income students had become a majority in the South's public schools for the first time in more than four decades. 



 The update warns, "Without fundamental improvements in how the South and the nation educate low income students, the trends that this report documents will ricochet across all aspects of American society for generations to come." 

Download the report

News Coverage

Nation's Wealthy Places Pour Private Money Into Public Schools, Study Finds. The New York Times. (October 2014). 

Study: Almost Half of Public School Students are Now Low-Income. The Atlantic. (November 2013).

Study: Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West. The Washington Post. (October, 2013).

Related Research

A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation's Public Schools. Southern Education Foundation. (2015).

A New Diverse Majority: Students of Color in the South's Public Schools. Southern Education Foundation. (2010).

New Diverse Majority Video. Southern Education Foundation.

A New Majority: Low Income Students in the South and Nation. Southern Education Foundation. (2007).

Suggested Citation

Suitts, Steve. A New Majority Update: Low Income Students in the South and Nation. Southern Education Foundation. (2013),

For More Information

Please contact Autumn Blanchard, Director of Communications and Marketing

Learn More

Sign up to receive New Majority brief updates.

Learn more by connecting with Kelley Ditzel Director of Research & Policy. 

Join Our Mailing List
Sign Up Now