Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Latest CPE progress report shows more Kentucky students succeeding in college

September 22, 2023

College graduation and retention rates are on the rise in Kentucky, and graduate degree production increased 9.8%, according to the 2023 Progress Report from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. After several consecutive years of declines, undergraduate enrollment has nearly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, although bachelor’s degrees awarded are down 2.1%, and KCTCS credentials fell 3.5%.

The report, which details public higher education performance in the 2021-22 school year, includes several positive outcomes.

"We have a lot to celebrate about higher education performance in 2023. There are positive signs that public colleges and universities have recovered from the worst effects of the pandemic,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson.

However, a sharp drop in the college-going rate of high school students is cause for concern. The percentage of high school graduates in 2021 enrolling directly in college was just 51.5%, a drop of 2.3 percentage points from the previous year.

Bachelor’s degrees awarded by public universities also decreased slightly, from 18,395 in 2020-21 to 18,013 in 2021-22, or 2.1%. Credentials awarded by KCTCS were down 3.5% over the same period.

“Kentucky must ensure college remains accessible and affordable,” President Thompson said. “One of the strategies we’re looking at is improving access to financial aid for the students who need it most. Kentucky is a high-aid state, but more can be done to increase awareness of and access to these funds.”

The full report is available on CPE’s website at

Last Updated: 9/22/2023