Perry Papka


The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) this week approved campus tuition and fee rates for public colleges and universities for the upcoming 2022 school year. All of Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions stayed under the tuition caps adopted by CPE:

No more than 3.0 percent over two years, and a maximum increase of no more than 2.0 percent in any one year, for public research and comprehensive universities.

Kentucky is expected to receive an estimated $2.4 billion from the American Recovery Plan’s State Fiscal Recovery Fund.  This large pot of money can be used for a broad set of purposes including infrastructure necessary for our future success – like broadband (for which the General Assembly already dedicated $250 million).  Additional funds from the ARP will be distributed to cities and counties directly from the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.  Kentucky counties are estimated to receive $1.15 billion with Kentucky cities receiving $751.5 million.

The increases in CAP needs-based financial aid and to postsecondary institutions are a step forward on two of the seven items in the Prichard Committee’s Big Bold Ask. The budget did not strengthen Kentucky’s investment in the other priorities in that Ask: child care assistance, public preschool, fully-funded kindergarten, fully-funded school transportation, and teaching excellence.

Ultimately, the test of affordability is in student success. If students do not complete their course of study, it is unlikely that that they will deem their experience as “affordable.” Assisting students financially is fundamental, but providing the supports necessary to succeed academically and reach the finish line is also critical. We highlight here a sampling of on-campus efforts (as well as at the Council on Postsecondary Education) that contribute to student success – and ultimately affordability.

What is Affordability?

Nothing like restating the obvious question! But we have to start with what students really have to pay. And this is where Kentucky might have a bright spot or two – in case you thought the trends in Part I of this blog were depressing.

When we focus only on rising tuition costs, it leaves out other important cost and resource considerations – namely room, board, and other living expenses, as well as resources students get from financial aid. When you combine all this together, you get to the clearer measure of real costs to students – Net Price – the amount left over to be covered by student resources (i.e. savings, student debt, work).