Kentucky's 60x30 Goal
Kentucky's goal of 60% with degrees and credentials by 2030 will move the state closer to the projected national average, making Kentucky more competitive in an economy where most new jobs require a postsecondary credential.
The Big Goal: 60% with degrees and credentials by 2030
Kentucky's strategic agenda for postsecondary education advances the Commonwealth's overall ambitious goal—to raise the percentage of Kentuckians with a high-quality postsecondary degree or certificate to 60 percent by the year 2030. Achieving this goal is critical to accelerate job creation, grow the economy, and expand the state's tax base through the contributions of a more skilled, productive workforce.
Progress Increasing Educational Attainment
According to the Council's most recent progress report, Kentucky continues to make strides in achieving this goal, increasing to 49.4% from 49.1% the previous year. Kentucky's future prosperity depends on more people advancing through our postsecondary education system and graduating in less time. CPE is leading efforts to increase degree production; make instruction more relevant, rigorous and engaging; improve support services for students when and where they need it; close achievement gaps; and ensure academic quality across our campuses.
To stay on track, the state needs to increase the number of undergraduate degree and credential holders by 1.7% annually. Since establishing the goal, Kentucky has generally outpaced that need, putting it far ahead through its efforts in degree production. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the trajectory, with less than a percentage point progress during AY21.
Increases in Graduation Rates
Graduation rates reflect the percentage of first-time, full-time students entering in the fall semester who graduate with an associate degree or credential within three years of entry or a bachelor’s degree within six years of entry. The rates continued their upward climb, increasing 1.8 percentage points at public universities and 4.1 points at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System over the last academic year. Graduation rates among underrepresented minority students at public universities outperformed the overall rate, rising 4.3 percentage points.
Closing Opportunity Gaps Continues
Gains for underrepresented minority students continued to outpace overall progress, a trend that is narrowing performance disparities between majority and minoritized populations.
- Enrollment of URM students increased by 14.1%, while overall enrollment decreased by 6.9%.
- Total degrees and credentials awarded to URM students were up 41.3%, compared to a 17.8% increase overall.
- The 6-year graduation rate for URM students was up 9.5 percentage points, compared to a 7.6 percentage-point increase overall.
Challenges Brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Public campuses faced several declines as they dealt with financial, demographic and public health challenges brought on by COVID-19, economic instability and a declining young adult population.
- Nationally, total postsecondary enrollment (undergraduate and graduate) decreased about 3% from 2020 to 2021; Kentucky fared better with a 2% decline.
- Undergraduate enrollment was down 5.8% at public universities and 10.5% at KCTCS from the previous year, while enrollment of URM students at public universities increased slightly.
- The percentage of Kentucky high school graduates enrolling directly in college fell from 58.1% to 53.8%. The total percentage of high school graduates enrolling in college in state is 47.9%.
- First-year to second-year retention rates fell 3.8 percentage points at public universities and 1.6 points at KCTCS.
- After several consecutive years of increases, undergraduate credentials awarded in 2020-21 were down 3.9% at public universities, while KCTCS increased the number of credentials awarded by 0.4%.
Last Updated: 10/7/2022