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 and adult 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.
Nearly 47% of Kentucky adults now have a postsecondary credential, up from 45% in 2015. That's an increase of two percentage points, almost the national average for improvement, which was 2.6 percentage points.
Kentucky’s public and independent institutions are currently producing around 60,000 certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees a year. By 2030, our goal is to be producing at least 75,000 a year.
For the last three years, Kentucky has surpassed the increases needed to stay on the 60x30 trajectory.
|Academic Year||Needed Increase||Actual Increase||Percentage Point Difference|
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.
How We Are Doing
Kentucky is on track to reach our 60x30 educational attainment goal. CPE's latest progress report shows undergraduate degrees and credentials at Kentucky’s public and independent colleges and universities totaled 62,555 in 2019, an increase of 3.47 percent over the prior year. Combined with graduate degrees, total degree and credential growth climbed 5.8 percent overall.
The highest growth came from short-term certificates awarded by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. In 2018-19, short-term certificates increased 4.8% over the previous year, while the number of bachelor’s degrees at Kentucky’s four-year institutions remained essentially flat across the state.
To view more in-depth data regarding Kentucky's progress on degree and credential production, view the degrees dashboard.
Other areas of progress
- Bachelor’s degrees conferred to minority students at public and private institutions increased 5.3%.
- At KCTCS, associate degrees rose 2.2%; short-term certificates jumped 6.5%; and credentials awarded to minority students increased 7.4%.
- Total master’s, professional and doctoral degrees climbed 14.3%.
- The six-year graduation rate for public four-year institutions hit 55%, up from 54.5% in the previous year. The three-year rate at KCTCS rose to 33.9%, up from 31%.
- First-year to second-year retention increased 1.3 percentage points to 78.2% at public universities, and 2.2 percentage points to 55.5% at KCTCS.
To view progress on key metrics by sector, visit the progress report dashboard.
Improving the college-going rate of Kentucky's high school students
Kentucky’s in-state college-going rate fell from 53% in 2017 to 51.7% in 2018, marking the fourth consecutive decline. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national college-going rate is around 70%. This percentage includes students going to college both in and out of state in the fall immediately following high school graduation. Kentucky’s metric only reflects the in-state rate. However, Kentucky is significantly below the national average.
Increasing the number of associate degree holders who go on to pursue a bachelor's degree
The percentage of KCTCS associate degree graduates who transferred to a four-year institution decreased from 38.9% in 2017-18 to 36.3% in 2018-19. This is the largest decreased during this strategic agenda cycle. Currently, Kentucky is 2.8 percentage points below the national average on this metric.
Getting more adults with some or no college credit to return to college
Enrollment among adults (25 and older) fell from 46,063 in fall 2015 to 38,452 in
fall 2018, a 17% drop. Enrolling
and graduating a greater percentage of non-traditional adult students is essential if Kentucky hopes to meet its
educational attainment goal.
Stabilizing and increasing state appropriations for higher education
State funding per full-time equivalent student was up slightly from the previous year, from $5,925 in 2018-19 to $5,977 in 2019-20. However, that increase was due to a drop in enrollment, not an increase in state appropriations.
Addressing affordability for all student populations
Average net price continues to increase at Kentucky’s public research universities, up from $18,176 in 2016-17 to $18,411 in 2017-18, the most current year available. Net price at comprehensive universities increased from $11,246 in 2016-7 to $12,110 in 2017-18.
Why the 2030 Goal Is Important
- America’s economy is changing. A recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Economy reveals that nearly all the jobs created in the U.S. since the Great Recession, 11.5 out of 11.6 million have gone to workers with at least some postsecondary education.
- Kentucky needs talent to capitalize on these changes. To remain competitive, workers need to be problem solvers, innovators, analysts, communicators and facilitators. They must adapt easily to new technologies and be able to work in teams. They need to be lifelong learners, willing to retrain many times over the course of their careers. They need education beyond high school.
- All postsecondary credentials are needed. Kentucky is poised for growth in five sectors: advanced manufacturing; healthcare; business and IT; transportation and logistics; and construction. Certificates help individuals land entry-level jobs. KCTCS works with public universities to create degree pathways that help workers advance in their education and careers over time.
- All regions must benefit. Kentucky will succeed only if we achieve greater levels of education for all. Minority, low-income and non-traditional students need resources and strong advising to help them complete college at rates equal to majority students. Rural areas need better access to postsecondary programs to help their economies and communities flourish.
- If we succeed, the benefits will transcend our economy. College-educated individuals have higher rates of voting, charitable giving and volunteerism. They are healthier and cost less to insure. They are less likely to be incarcerated, on public assistance or addicted to drugs or alcohol. They read to their children more often and are more involved in their children’s schools.
Learn more about Kentucky's education goals by viewing Stronger By Degrees, the Council's strategic agenda for postsecondary and adult education.