Kentucky’s public colleges and universities are awarding more degrees than ever, but students are having a tougher time getting financial aid from the state, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education’s 2014 accountability report.
The annual report shows that during the 2012-2013 year, state colleges and universities awarded more than 62,000 degrees and certificates—a 13 percent increase from four years ago.
But the difficulty some students have getting financial aid stems from a couple issues, said Aaron Thompson, CPE executive vice president. Some may not know how to get money for college—for example the first-come, first-serve financial aid period opens Jan. 1—plus there may not be enough money to go around, he said.
As WFPL has previously reported, more than 100,000 students who qualified for financial aid were denied because the state did not have enough money to give it to them. This represents a 57 percent increase over that same four year period.
The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority requested from the state legislature an additional $36 million for this fiscal year for its scholarship programs, but the funding wasn’t granted, a KHEAA spokeswoman said. If if the extra funding had been granted, there would still be thousands of students who are eligible who wouldn’t be able to receive financial aid, according to the agency, which oversees the state’s financial aid.
But there’s another problem.
“Not getting the scholarships from the beginning creates a problem with access and clearly creates a problem with completion,” said Thompson.
When students aren’t able to fund their education early on, many students are forced to leave after the first year, he said.
The CPE sets the cap for how much public colleges and universities can raise their tuition. It’s a story that makes headlines every year, especially since the General Assembly has made several cuts to higher education over the past decade.
The latest biennium budget cut higher education by 1.5 percent.