KY Policy Blog

Governor’s Budget Proposal Would Worsen College Affordability

By Dustin Pugel
February 11, 2016

Governor Bevin’s budget proposal would not improve — and would even worsen — the state’s college affordability problems. Deep budget cuts to public universities and community colleges are expected to result in more tuition increases, and funding for need-based scholarships remains basically flat while lottery money intended for these scholarships is diverted to other priorities.

Unless greater investments are made in higher education than what has been proposed, the opportunity to go to college and complete a degree will continue slipping farther and farther away for many Kentuckians.

While the read more

Diversion of Lottery Funds Undermines College Affordability

By Dustin Pugel
January 6, 2016

According to law, 55 percent of lottery profits are supposed to pay for need-based scholarships (after $3 million is given to literacy programs). For years, though, millions of scholarship dollars have been diverted away from the College Access Program and the Kentucky Tuition Grant toward other priorities. The problem has worsened since 2014, and has received media attention. Without action in this year’s session, funds will likely continue to be taken from students who need them the most.


KY Medicaid infographic read more

Even Big Cuts to New Teachers’ Pensions Would Do Little to Address System’s Funding Challenge

By Jason Bailey
October 27, 2015

Even if the state were to massively cut pension benefits for new teachers, it wouldn’t result in meaningful savings to the teachers’ retirement system over the 30 year period needed to pay down its unfunded liability, according to information provided to the system’s funding work group.

Thus the state could deeply reduce retirement security for new teachers through benefit cuts — and drive up the challenge of attracting and retaining good teachers — without making a real dent in the serious financial problem now facing Kentucky. Cuts to new teachers’ read more

New Data Shows Kentuckians with Third-Highest Student Loan Default Rate Among States

By Ashley Spalding
September 30, 2015

New data shows that Kentuckians leaving college with student loan debt have among the highest default rates in the country, a problem stemming in part from the rising cost of college due to declining state and federal funding.

Data released today by the U.S. Department of Education shows the rate of default among student loan borrowers in Kentucky is now 16.3 percent. This makes Kentucky’s three-year student loan default rate the third highest in the nation — surpassed only by New Mexico’s (20 percent) and West Virginia’s (18.2 percent). The read more

President’s Community College Proposal Could Help Make Higher Education Accessible for More Kentuckians

By Ashley Spalding
January 20, 2015

The President’s proposal to cover two years of community college tuition for students would help thousands of Kentuckians earn college degrees and take advantage of the resulting job opportunities. And unlike much of the state’s financial aid—as well as Tennessee’s free community college program—the proposal would benefit low-income adults, an important population needing greater access to higher education.

The proposed program would provide funding for three-quarters of the average cost of community college, with participating states picking up the remaining tuition costs. The federal funds for the program would come read more

New Report Argues for Funding Proven Strategies to Enhance K-12 Student Achievement

By Ashley Spalding
December 11, 2014

Kentucky K-12 schools may be getting by with current levels of funding—which are among the nation’s deepest per-student cuts to education since the recession—but in order to realize the state’s goals, to graduate students college and career ready, additional investments are needed. Economically disadvantaged students in particular are falling behind, which is exacerbated by schools in poorer areas being less able to make up for state and federal budget cuts by raising local revenues. According to a new report by the Council for Better Education (CBE), “Adequacy for Excellence in read more

As Costs Rise, Disadvantaged Students Falling Behind in Higher Education in Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
November 10, 2014

A new report from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education shows that the state is not on track to meet several critical higher education goals it set for itself a few years ago. Most concerning of all is the lack of progress in graduation rates for low-income, underprepared and underrepresented minority students, with rising costs likely a big factor.

In 2010-2011, the state set targets for 2013-2014 as part of a broader plan for higher education in Kentucky. The state has shown improvement on numerous metrics, but low-income, underprepared and read more

Student Loan Default Rates Drop Nationally but Not in Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
September 25, 2014

As described in a WFPL article published today, Kentucky’s federal student loan default rate is now the 4th- highest among the states. Also, while new data shows some improvement in the national student loan default rate, Kentucky’s rate did not improve.

According to the new federal Department of Education data, the national three-year student loan default rate is 13.7 percent while in Kentucky it is 17.5 percent. The national student loan default rate declined this year, down from 14.7 percent last year. But Kentucky’s rate last year was 17.3 percent, read more

Increasing Accountability of For-Profit Colleges

By Ashley Spalding
August 20, 2014

In recent years, there has been a lot of debate over the value and role of for-profit colleges. Enrollment at these schools across the country has grown rapidly, but many for-profits have come under scrutiny for poor student outcomes—including alumni having greater debt and lower employment rates than those who attended non-profit schools—as well as deceptive marketing practices. Meanwhile many of these for-profit colleges receive large amounts of federal and state financial aid. Some states are working to require greater accountability from for-profits—including by disqualifying schools with very high student read more

Kentucky Should Get Involved In Debate About New College Affordability Strategies

By Ashley Spalding
July 22, 2014

While recent discussion of the student debt crisis has focused largely on federal proposals to make student loan payments easier to manage, several states (not to mention Starbucks) are experimenting with new strategies as well. Given Kentucky’s growing college affordability challenges, the state should get involved in this conversation while keeping in mind the specific shortcomings of particular ideas.

Driven in part by dramatic increases in tuition rates across the nation, cumulative student loan debt in the U.S. has reached $1.2 trillion and continues to grow. These trends are largely read more