Improving Higher Education Access In Kentucky 

Higher education is one of the most reliable ways for someone to secure themselves financial security over the course of their lifetime. College graduates consistently prove that they see these long-term benefits of education compared to their peers that only completed education up to the high school level. In the sample size of Kentucky’s workforce, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree are outearning high school graduates by $1 million over the course of a lifetime. They have increased workforce participation (93% versus 77%), improved financial security ($52k in annual salary versus $30k), and decreased participation in public benefit programs (8% versus 30%). 

Due to the striking nature of these statistics, the state of Kentucky has decided to improve the workforce and economy by focusing on increasing the rate of college graduates among state residents. Their goal is that 60% of Kentucky’s population will have a post-secondary credential by 2030. Already within the past five years, there has been a 7% increase in degree completions and credentials and a 4.3% increase in the six-year graduation rate at public universities. Completion gaps have also been closed as well- there has been a 26% increase in URM student enrollment at public institutions. Kentucky is quickly closing in on their 2030 goal. Already, there is a 55% attainment rate in the state. 

There have been some challenges for Kentucky to maintain graduation rates in certain key demographics. Low income learners are currently down by 41% and adult learners are down by 46%. The state is also below the national average in baccalaureate degree attainment by 8%, meaning that Kentucky will have to make some new changes to their educational support tactics. For example, they will need to support basic student needs, improve transfer pathways, and increase gateway course success in order to promote student success initiatives.

Kentucky Student Success Story in the Making
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative

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