The next time you hear complaints about cutbacks in North Carolina’s higher education budget, it might be useful to refer to this graphic from the print version of an article in the latest TIME magazine, then to employ one of Thomas Sowell’s most useful questions: Compared to what?

In case the graphic’s key is unclear, states such as North Carolina in the light gray saw net growth in state per-student funding for colleges from 2006-11, while all of our neighboring states saw reductions of at least 10 percent over the same time period.

Note that the state with the largest increase in state per-student funding was North Dakota, which has benefited in recent years from the revenue associated with fracking for energy resources.