Despite funding cuts and a nationwide recession, Kentucky has managed to stay in the race when it comes to higher education.
In 2016 the state launched the strategic agenda “Stronger By Degrees,” with the goal of raising the percentage of Kentuckians with a high-quality postsecondary degree or certificate to 60% by the year 2030. The 2020 Progress Report indicated that total degree and credential growth had already climbed 5.8% overall, and also showed significant improvement in closing achievement gaps for minority students.
Kentucky’s goals and growth, in addition to excellent schools and financial aid opportunities, make it clear that higher education is a priority in the state.
Overview of Higher Education in Kentucky
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that there were 59 degree-granting institutions in Kentucky as of 2018-2019. Of the 59, 24 are public, 25 are private non-profit and 10 are private for-profit.
The average cost of tuition and fees at one of the state’s 4-year public institutions is $10,674 for residents and $25,430 for those out of state, according to the NCES.
If you happen to live in another southern state, however, tuition may be lower because of Kentucky’s participation in Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a 16-state collaboration aimed at bettering higher education. Through this organization, residents of participating states may pursue degrees at schools in other participating states while paying in-state tuition.
Another valuable resource to Kentucky’s educational system is the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, which has headed up initiatives such as:
- GEAR UP Kentucky – Kentucky’s implementation of the national program aimed at increasing the number of low income students entering and graduating college
- Kentucky College and Career Connections Coalition (Ky3C) – To improve communication and collaboration between college and career outreach professionals
- Kentucky Virtual Library (KYVL) – The state’s hub for online research
- Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC) – Comprehensive catalog of online courses and degrees offered at the state’s public and private colleges
- Kentucky Skills U – Free adult education services such as GED test preparation to college and career preparation
The agency works to improve quality, diversity, accessibility and affordability of higher education across the state.
About Online Colleges in Kentucky
Online learning provides a convenient and affordable way for students to pursue a degree while still maintaining their professional and personal commitments.
In 2018 the NCES reported that 19.3% of students in Kentucky were enrolled in fully online degree programs, and another 24.9% were enrolled in one or more online courses.
Those numbers have continued to rise, and today nearly all postsecondary schools in Kentucky offer online learning opportunities. Students are able to choose between fully online programs, and hybrid programs, which involve both online and on-campus learning. And they can pursue certifications, undergraduate or graduate degrees. They may enroll through large, well-known schools such as the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University, or through small, private institutions like Brescia University and Lindsay Wilson College.
Students interested in community or technical college can utilize the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), a statewide system of 14 community colleges and 15 technical institutes. KCTCS offers more than 700 credential options and is the state’s largest provider of workforce training and online education.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Kentucky
If you’re interested in earning your college degree in Kentucky, the first step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which provides access to federal, state and private financial aid.
You can fill out the FAFSA starting October 1st. Since some funds may be awarded on a first come first served basis, you should fill it out as soon as possible.
The FAFSA will require you to answer questions about your finances and the finances of your parents (unless you are considered independent by FAFSA’s standards). Your answers will be used to determine how much and what type of financial assistance you are offered.
The most desirable forms of financial aid are grants and scholarships, which do not need to be repaid.
In Kentucky, the government agency Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) helps to improve students’ access to higher education by providing financial and informational resources.
KHEAA administers the following grant and scholarship programs exclusively for Kentuckians:
|Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES)||
Merit based; Must have GPA of 2.5 or higher each year of high school
Award amounts increase based on GPA scores each year of High School; Additional incentives for high ACT/SAT scores and other academic accomplishments
|College Access Program Grant (CAP)
Up to $2000 at a 2-year institution; Up to $2,200 at a 4-year institution
|Kentucky Tuition Grant
Up to $2960
|Dual Credit Scholarship Program||For high school Juniors or Seniors who are taking dual credit classes at a participating college or university||
Reimbursement for up to 2 classes
|Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship||For those pursuing an industry-recognized certificate or diploma in an approved sector||
Total cost public institution’s tuition and fees, minus other grants/scholarships
There are countless other financial aid opportunities available as well.
First, check with your high school guidance counselor to see about local grants and scholarships, which are often less competitive than state or national scholarships.
Then try scholarship search sites like Fastweb.com, where you can enter information about yourself and be matched up with scholarship opportunities.
Finally, discuss financial aid opportunities with the college or university you’ve chosen. Schools often offer impressive grants and scholarships to admitted students.
List of Online Colleges in Kentucky
|Online Colleges in Kentucky||Location||Annual Tuition||Accreditation||Application Fee|
|Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green, Kentucky||$9,912||Regional||$45|
|Campbellsville University||Campbellsville, Kentucky||$24,596||Regional||$20|
|Thomas More College||Crestview Hills, Kentucky||$29,450||Regional||$0|
|Kentucky State University||Frankfort, Kentucky||$7,754||Regional||$30|
|Northern Kentucky University||Highland Heights, Kentucky||$9,384||Regional||$40|
|University of Kentucky||Lexington, Kentucky||$11,484||Regional||$50|
|Sullivan University||Louisville, Kentucky||varies||Regional||$100|
|Morehead State University||Morehead, Kentucky||$8,496||Regional||$30|
|Brescia University||Owensboro, Kentucky||$21,100||Regional||$25|
|Daymar College||Owensboro, Kentucky||$15,000||National||$0|
|Eastern Kentucky University||Richmond, Kentucky||$8,868||Regional||$35|
|University of the Cumberlands||Williamsburg, Kentucky||$23,000||Regional||$30|
|Asbury University||Wilmore, Kentucky||$28,630||Regional||$25|
In spite of financial restrictions, Kentucky colleges are more attractive than ever!
Thanks to the support of dozens of agencies, the state’s colleges and universities continue to increase their online learning offerings and financial aid resources, making Kentucky a solid choice for higher education.