Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Student Success

Kentucky will be stronger by ensuring more of its people complete college with the skills and abilities to be productive, engaged citizens.


Kentucky’s colleges and universities have made dramatic improvements in enrollment and degree production over the last decade. Since 2001, total enrollment has increased 25 percent, and total degrees and credentials are up 84 percent.


While completion rates at Kentucky colleges and universities are increasing, progress must accelerate. Less than half of first-year college students (47 percent) graduate from a public university within six years. The four-year graduation rate is only 18 percent. Less than a quarter of associate degree-seeking students (23 percent) graduate from community or technical college within three years.

Additionally, average completion rates mask performance gaps among various groups of students, a greater challenge as Kentucky grows more racially and culturally diverse. Lower-income, underprepared, and underrepresented minority students succeed at lower rates. Students from metropolitan areas outperform students from rural, underserved areas. These performance gaps must be narrowed.

Kentucky’s future in large part depends upon helping more students advance through the educational system and graduate in less time—working-age adults as well as recent high school graduates. Financial barriers to accessing and completing college must be reduced. Increases in degree production and completion rates, while critical, cannot be achieved at the expense of academic quality. Kentucky’s colleges and universities will continue to uphold high academic standards and empower all students to meet them.

Policy Objectives

Policy Objective 4: Increase highquality degree production and completion rates at all levels and close achievement gaps, particularly for lower-income, underprepared, and underrepresented minority students.


  • 4.1. Maximize KCTCS’s role as a high quality, low-cost provider of postsecondary education and transfer opportunities encouraging college access and success.
  • 4.2. Provide institution and student incentives to increase high-quality degree production and completion rates.
  • 4.3. Increase the use of data, information, research, and technology to improve student learning and outcomes.
  • 4.4. Support new pathways for adult learners to enroll and complete postsecondary degrees and credentials.
  • 4.5. Secure adequate institutional funding to support high-quality faculty and staff, effective student and academic support services, technology enhancements, and other resources to enhance student success.
  • 4.6. Promote student engagement, undergraduate research, internships, and other educational opportunities that improve the quality of the student experience, develop leaders, and lead to success after graduation.
  • 4.7. Implement a statewide diversity policy that recognizes diversity as a vital component of the state’s educational and economic development.


Policy Objective 5: Decrease financial barriers to college access and completion.


  • 5.1. Increase funding for the state’s need-based student financial aid programs and ensure they address the needs of part-time, transfer, and adult learners, as well as traditional students.
  • 5.2. Advocate for sufficient state operating support, financial aid, and campus efficiencies to reduce pressure on tuition.
  • 5.3. Support Pell Grants, the simplification of FAFSA, college savings programs, college work study, tax credits, and other federal aid initiatives intended to maximize student access and success.
  • 5.4. Increase students’ and families’ understanding of the net costs of going to college and the availability of financial resources to assist them.


Student Success Performance Metrics
  • Degrees & credentials conferred
  • Graduation rates
  • Achievement gaps
  • State appropriations for public higher education
  • State financial aid funding deficit

(Performance Metrics Chart)

Student Success Policy Objective Updates
Legislative Mandates
  • Goal 6 of HB 1 (1997) deals directly with educational attainment, challenging Kentucky to "deliver educational services to citizens in quantities of a quality comparable to the national average."
  • Goal 4 of HB 1
    requires regional universities to assure "statewide access to baccalaureate and master's degrees of a quality at or above the national average."
  • Goal 5 of HB 1
    directs KCTCS to provide a pathway to bachelor's degree attainment through "a two-year course of general studies designed for transfer."
  • HB 160 (2010)
    calls for associate-level coursework at KCTCS to be accepted and credited to related bachelor's degree programs at public universities.

Last Updated 10/11/2011