Student and State Success: The Importance of Higher Education

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    Kentucky is striving toward an important goal: have 60% of its population hold a bachelor’s degree by 2030.  Achieving this goal would have rippling effects on Kentucky’s economy and workforce.  Bachelor’s degrees allow individuals to improve their financial security; in fact, ten years after graduation, Kentuckians with a bachelor’s degree earn a salary that is $22,000 more than Kentuckians with a high school diploma. Let’s explore student success below.

    Higher education also leads to greater overall workforce participation, with 93% of Kentuckians with a bachelor’s degree participating in the economy, as opposed to 77% with a high school diploma.  These facts make higher education an important focus for states.

    Kentucky has work to do before it reaches its goal.  The state is below the US average in baccalaureate degree attainment, with 29% attainment, as opposed to 37%.  Additionally, key groups such as low-income learners and adult learners have faced declining enrollment in undergraduate programs, which impacts attainment rates. 

    However, Kentucky remains determined.  Certain groups have emerged with the intention of boosting degree attainment in Kentucky.  For example, the CPE began the Kentucky Student Success Collaborative, which aims to help students get degrees by targeting key areas such as transfer pathways and student basic needs. 

    The Kentucky Student Success Collaborative is an example of an organization that has started to make an impact as Kentucky works toward its goal.  Over the past few years, Kentucky has seen a 7% increase in undergraduate degrees and credentials, and the completion gap has decreased as underrepresented minority students earn degrees in higher numbers.  

    Prioritizing higher education is critical when it comes to a flourishing economy, and Kentucky hopes to boost its degree-holding population in the coming years.  This will benefit individuals, who will enjoy greater financial security, and will also boost the general economy and workforce.

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