More Kentucky students are being encouraged to enroll in college, showing up prepared and graduating, but the state still doesn't do enough to make college affordable, according to a new national report.Bluegrass Institute free-market guy, David Adams, writing at Kentucky Progress, provides helpful lessons to the non-rich on how to be poor. For some reason, it reminded me of Marie-Antoinette, the Queen consort of Louis XVI, (late 18th century) who is said to have quipped, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," when told told that the French populace had no bread to eat. It translates to, "Let them eat cake."
The independent report on American higher education flunks all but one state when it comes to affordability — an embarrassing verdict that is unlikely to improve as the economy contracts.
The biennial study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which evaluates how well higher education is serving the public, handed out F's for affordability to 49 states, including Kentucky, up from 43 two years ago. Only California received a passing grade in the category, a C, thanks to its relatively inexpensive community colleges.
The story gets slightly better treatment at the hands of BGI analyist Richard Innes who reluctantly acknowledges,
"Measuring Up does indicate that Kentucky is making some progress relative to the rest of the country in some areas..."Alert the media! But he laments that the quality of higher education in America is a "low target."
The report notes:
- Kentucky has hoisted itself up to or above the national average in several key areas.
- Kentucky reached the national average in getting young adults into college, with 35 percent of 18- to-24-year-olds entering a college, university or technical school.
- The number of Kentucky students completing their degrees in relation to total enrollment also soared from near the bottom in the early 1990s to match the top-performing states.
- Forty-seven percent of Kentucky college students now complete a bachelor's degree within six years.
- Richard Crofts, the interim president of Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education. credits KERA for many of the improvements reflected in the report, such as greater success with low-income students in math and science.
- Kentucky is more generous with financial aid across all income levels than most states, ranking third in the nation with $1,098 per student.
- Kentucky ranks 9th in need-based grant aid per student with $542, according to figures from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs annual survey.
Then former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt accurately observed, "Our nation and our states can do better... Family wealth and income, race and ethnicity and geography play too great a role in determining which Americans receive a high school education that prepares them for college, which ones enroll in college, and which ones complete certificate or degree programs."