KY Policy Blog

KEES Bill Could Worsen College Affordability for Low-Income Kentuckians

By Ashley Spalding
February 13, 2018

Our state needs to prioritize making college more affordable for low-income Kentuckians and House Bill 247, which would radically alter the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES), falls short of this goal in several ways.

While KEES — which has historically been a merit-based scholarship program — currently serves primarily higher income students, it also helps some low-income students meet the growing costs of college. HB 247 would reduce its ability to do so.

What is KEES?

The KEES scholarship is currently available to students who earn at least a 2.5 read more

Adequate Fund Balances are Crucial for Prudent School District Management and Should Not be Relied Upon to Make Up for State Funding Cuts

By Pam Thomas
January 29, 2018

One of the ways the governor’s budget expects local school districts to make up for significant cuts he has proposed in state support for education, including transportation and teacher health insurance, is through spending down district reserves.  State law requires school districts to budget for a minimum reserve of at least two percent of the total school budget. However, districts that are able to retain balances greater than the statutory minimum because of sound financial practice, including needs for debt service coverage, bond trustee requirements and bonding capacity, credit rating, read more

Governor’s Budget Cuts Per-Student SEEK Funding

By Ashley Spalding
January 23, 2018

The Support for Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) formula is the primary source of funding for the state’s local school districts. Despite the perception that SEEK funding is not cut in the governor’s budget proposal, a detailed look shows this is not the case.

One part of the SEEK formula is base funding, which comes from a combination of resources raised by the local district as well as state funding. This base funding amount is often referred to as the “per-pupil guarantee” and the level is established for each year read more

School Voucher Tax Break Proposals Further Threaten Funding for Public Education

By Anna Baumann
January 10, 2018

Bills have already been filed in both the Senate and the House this session that would further threaten resources for Kentucky’s already underfunded public schools and other services, allow high-income Kentuckians to make money from “donations” to private schools and allow relatively well-off Kentuckians to benefit from the private school scholarships the bills would create. These proposals, referred to by proponents as “Ed Choice” tax credits, are thinly disguised private school vouchers that shift resources from public services to private schools.

Tax Breaks Will Reduce Resources for Kentucky’s Public Schools read more

Report Shows Kentucky’s Preschool and Kindergarten Programs Effective, Need Greater Investment

By Ashley Spalding
October 16, 2017

High quality early childhood education has long been understood to be an important investment with a significant return. While our state has done more in recent years to expand access to preschool and full-day kindergarten, a new report from the state Legislative Research Commission shows there is real need for additional investments.


The report describes how effective our state’s preschool program is at preparing children for kindergarten — especially those from low-income households or who have disabilities. However, while full-day preschool is shown to be most effective just 40 read more

Kentucky Still Among the Worst for Student Loan Default

By Ashley Spalding
September 28, 2017

Kentucky again ranks among the worst states for rates of student loan default, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education. This latest data is yet another indicator Kentucky students have difficulty paying for college — largely due to public disinvestment in higher education that has a particularly damaging impact on low-income students and students of color.

Kentucky’s 3-year student loan default rate is now 14 percent, which is the 9th worst in the nation. Although this is an improvement over last year’s default rate of 15.5 read more

Pell Grant Cuts Would Reduce College Access and Economic Opportunity in Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
August 25, 2017

The recent U.S. House budget resolution would slash the Pell Grant program by $75 billion over the next decade, cutting the maximum grant by $1,060 or 18 percent. Pell Grants help expand college access and economic opportunity in Kentucky, and cuts to the program would be incredibly harmful.

Pell Increases College Access in Kentucky

Pell provides need-based grants to undergraduate students who haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree; unlike loans, students don’t need to repay them. For the 2017-2018 school year the maximum amount for a Pell Grant is $5,920. read more

Five Things to Keep in Mind as College Students Head Back to School

By Ashley Spalding
August 23, 2017

In colleges across Kentucky, students are beginning their fall semester — some for the first time, some returning to complete a degree. Here are five things about higher education in our state to keep in mind as the new school year begins.

State budget cuts have continued

Kentucky ranks in the bottom 10 states in the nation for per-student higher education funding cuts since 2008, according to a recently released report. We are also 1 of 13 states that continued to cut over the past school year, while the majority read more

School Funding Challenges Remain as Students Return to Classrooms

By Ashley Spalding
August 16, 2017

The beginning of a new school year is often a time of excitement for kids, parents and educators. But it’s also a time state funding cuts and freezes to K-12 education may create difficulties for some school districts as they make decisions about what they can and cannot afford.

Kentucky’s K-12 funding cuts among the deepest

In last year’s report on K-12 funding by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Kentucky continued its decline in national education funding rankings, sliding to third worst in the nation based on cuts read more

Too Many Community College Students Are Hungry or Homeless

By Celena Snoddy
August 10, 2017

While community college is typically thought of as an affordable option for earning a degree, a recent report shows this is often not the case. Too many community college students do not have consistent access to food or stable housing, which makes it difficult for them to be academically successful. These issues likely contribute to Kentucky’s low community college graduation rates as well as achievement gaps for low-income and underrepresented minority students.

The report describes findings from a survey of basic needs insecurity (i.e. food and housing) among community college read more