Kentucky Colleges See Enrollment Dip

Despite a college enrollment drop triggered by the pandemic, Kentucky’s colleges are continuing to close gaps in graduation and retention rates, especially among Black and brown students.

A recent report by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles found nationwide, the pandemic has prompted many students of color to rethink or cancel their plans after high school.

Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, said the state continues to focus on how to get more people back into college and onto career paths.

“And we had to do this around the idea that historically we’ve been leaving people behind,” Thompson explained.

Thompson noted the drop in enrollment could present workforce issues. State data released last month showed while the effects of the pandemic linger, nonfarm employment across the state has nearly recovered.

Thompson added the state is continuing to see progress.

“I’m happy to say at all of our four-year institutions, except for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), we have at least an 80% retention rate now, and our HBCU is 70%.”

He also pointed out Kentucky has lowered its out-of-state tuition, with the goal of boosting enrollment.

“To bring more people in with the hopes, and with the design, that we’re going to get 40% of them to state in the state,” Thompson stressed.

The state budget passed by the General Assembly boosts funding for postsecondary education institutions to $80 million annually.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.