Higher Ed Report Card Shows KY making gains

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By The Staff

Kentucky has made progress in four of five categories of postsecondary education performance, according to Measuring Up 2008: The National Report Card on Higher Education. The report, released today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education in Washington, D.C., assesses the performance of the nation and all 50 states in five key areas: college preparation, college participation, college affordability, college completion and the benefits of postsecondary education to the state.

     Kentucky’s postsecondary education system posted significant improvements in the categories of preparation, participation, completion and benefits to the state since the early 1990s.  However, like 49 other states, Kentucky received an “F” in the category of affordability.

     “This report underscores our concerns on affordability and makes clear that the issue is a concern for the entire county,” said Richard Crofts, interim president of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

     “However, we are pleased with the positive trends in the data that show Kentucky is making significant progress,” noted Crofts. The results did not come as a surprise because the report parallels Kentucky’s own accountability system, he said.

     In the area of bachelor degree completions, the report states that Kentucky has been among the fastest-improving states in the percentage of first-time, full-time college students earning a four-year degree within six years of enrolling in college over the past decade.

     “Kentucky now surpasses the national average in the number of undergraduate credentials and degrees awarded relative to the number of students enrolled, and in fact is performing at the level of the top five states,” added Crofts.


      Key findings:

§  The percentage of 25 to 64 year olds with a bachelor’s degree or higher has risen from 15 percent to 22 percent.  This is the fastest growing rate in the nation.


§  The rate of first-time, full-time students completing a bachelor’s degree within six years has risen from 37 percent to 47 percent.


§  The number of certificates and degrees awarded at all colleges and universities per 1,000 state residents (ages 18 to 44) without a college degree has risen from 15 percent to 32 percent.


§  The percentage of young adults in KY (18-24) who earn a high school credential has increased substantially since the early 1990s from 81 percent to 87 percent.


§  The percentage of young adults in KY (18-24) enrolled in college has improved substantially since early 1990s from 28 percent to 35 percent.


     Kentucky’s postsecondary affordability situation, along with many other states, continues to be a concern:


§  A larger percentage of family income is needed to pay for the entire cost of college in all sectors of postsecondary education than in 2000.


§  At the lowest-priced public college (community college), the share of income that the poorest families need to pay for tuition has more than doubled from 14 percent to 31percent since 1993.


§  The average loan amount that undergraduate students borrow each year has almost doubled since 1995, from $2,672 to $4,841.  In the last two years alone, the amount of loans has increased 50 percent.


§  Even though Kentucky significantly increased its investment in need-based aid in the early 1990s, its current proportion of state aid to federal aid is well below the top performing states in this indicator.


     Kentucky’s 2008 grades are listed below:


§  Preparation: C


§  Participation: C


§  Affordability: F


§  Completion B


§  Benefits to State: D+


§  Student Learning: I (all states received an incomplete)


     Kentucky’s report can be accessed at http://measuringup2008.highereducation.org/print/state_reports/long/KY.pdf.

     The National report can be accessed at http://measuringup2008.highereducation.org/print/NCPPHEMUNationalRpt.pdf.

Kentucky is in the middle of the most dramatic economic and social transformation in its history. Double the Numbers: Kentucky’s Plan to Increase College Graduates explains that increasing bachelor’s degrees is the quickest, most direct way for Kentucky to increase its economic prosperity. College graduates earn more, are healthier, create a more robust economy, and enjoy a higher quality of life. The Double the Numbers plan outlines five statewide strategies for Kentucky to achieve this ambitious, but achievable goal. While this effort will not be easy, the benefits of Doubling the Numbers will be felt by all Kentuckians.