Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Strategic Agenda for Postsecondary Education

A primary duty of the Council is the development and implementation of a strategic agenda, which aligns state and institutional goals and then sets the strategies by which these goals will be achieved and resourced.

Kentucky's Goal: 60% with Degrees and Credentials by 2030

The state goal is 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 tax base through the contributions of a more skilled, productive workforce. 

Agenda Publications

Campus Plans

Guiding Legislation

Guiding Data

2022-30 Strategic Agenda

Cover of the strategic agenda

The Council's statewide strategic agenda for 2022-30, "Higher Education Matters," relies on the contributions of many constituencies and committees, including CPE board members, higher education leaders, faculty members, students, K-12 educators, legislators, employers and partners - that provided valuable insight and direction throughout the development process.


Equity: The Cross-Cutting Priority

Inequities in Kentucky’s educational systems have exacerbated disparities in employment, income and health. These opportunity gaps prevent all Kentuckians from reaching their full potential. 

A critical focus of the strategic agenda is creating equitable higher education opportunities for low-income and minoritized Kentuckians. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how easily academic momentum can be stalled by unemployment, poor physical or mental health, food and housing insecurity and the lack of reliable broadband access. All strategies in this agenda must ensure at-risk students are provided access to life-changing postsecondary credentials, as well as the academic, social and emotional supports to succeed. Doing so is both an economic and moral imperative.

Student filling out FAFSA

Priority: Affordability

Over the last two decades, federal and state disinvestment in public higher education has shifted the majority of college costs to students and their families. In 2000, Kentucky subsidized 66% of operational costs for public postsecondary institutions, with tuition and fees covering the remaining 34%. By 2020, the state’s share of
funding was down to 32%, with 68% borne by students.

CPE will work with elected leaders to increase state funding for postsecondary education and student financial aid, so rising costs are not passed on to students. In addition, we will work to limit increases in tuition and fees, while exploring partnership opportunities to help incoming students understand the complexities of college pricing, and the role of grants, scholarships and responsible borrowing in managing costs.


  1. Reduce financial barriers to college enrollment and completion.
  2. Improve the public’s understanding of how to pay for college.

Key Performance Indicators

High school students taking a test

Priority: Transitions

Over the decade, the U.S. saw little movement in the percentage of high school seniors enrolling directly in college, which remained around 66%. Kentucky, on the other hand, experienced a rather steep decline in its in-state college-going rate, falling from 55% in 2014 to 50.5% in 2019. 

It is unrealistic to expect high school guidance counselors to help every student navigate the maze of college admission requirements and decisions. One trend exacerbating this workload is the increase in students utilizing Kentucky's many dual credit opportunities prior to college. With its partners, CPE will advocate for dedicated college coaches and advisors serving every school district in the Commonwealth, and create resources that walk students and their parents step-by-step through the planning and application process.


  1. Increase students’ readiness to enter postsecondary education.
  2. Increase enrollment in postsecondary education.

Key Performance Indicators

Student on graduation day

Priority: Success

Kentucky’s colleges and universities made impressive gains in retention and completion over the last decade. The six-year graduation rate rose from 47.6% to 56.4% at public universities, while the three-year graduation rate at KCTCS jumped 13.3 points to 33%. However, while institutions are narrowing completion gaps at a historic pace, more progress is needed to close them. The six-year graduation rate of African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, indigenous and mixed-race students currently stands at 44%, and the three-year rate is 24.3%.

Increasing degree production for everyone is an overriding concern of this agenda, but we are not prioritizing quantity over quality. From certificates to doctorates, we must ensure students master the content, skills and mindsets necessary for future success and fulfillment. The challenge is producing quality credentials at a pace commensurate with our overarching attainment goal.


  1. Increase persistence in and timely completion of postsecondary programs.
  2. Maximize transfer of academic and experiential credit.
  3. Ensure academic offerings are high-quality, relevant and inclusive.

Key Performance Indicators

Priority: Talent

A primary purpose of postsecondary education is to produce adaptive, highly skilled workers to fuel the economy. In the recent past, a high school education was sufficient to secure gainful employment capable of supporting a family. However, automation and outsourcing are rendering these jobs nearly obsolete.

A 2021 report by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce estimates that the state has 90,000 to 100,000 job openings in any given month, and 65% to 85% of these vacancies require training, credentialing or degrees
beyond high school. 

Kentucky must expand postsecondary access to undereducated, working-age adults to fill critical work shortages in healthcare, STEM fields, early childhood development and other high-demand areas.


  1. Improve the career outcomes of postsecondary graduates.
  2. Increase research and service to support strong communities and economies.

Key Performance Indicators

Graduate happy about his diploma

Priority: Value

Even before the pandemic, Americans were questioning the value of higher education. The extent of this skepticism varies according to socioeconomic status, political party affiliation, geographic region and other factors.

A 2021 survey conducted by the American Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Bipartisan Policy Center asked adults whether college was definitely or probably still worth it. Overall, only 27% of respondents believed college was definitely worth it; another 33% said it probably was.

Negative beliefs about the value of college, though widespread, are based more on feeling than fact. College’s return on investment in strict financial terms depends on how much you paid for your degree and the marketability of your chosen field. Some students reap greater financial rewards than others.

It is our hope that increasing higher education’s value proposition will lead to greater investment from both the General Assembly and the private sector. More profoundly, it will restore our belief in higher education’s ability to put Americans on a path to future prosperity and fulfillment.


  1. Increase public belief in the power of postsecondary education.
  2. Build support for greater investment in postsecondary education.

Key Performance Indicators

Last Updated: 5/16/2022