Postsecondary Costs Have Shifted Sharply Toward Students, Families

by | Dec 4, 2017

Postsecondary degrees and credentials strengthen individuals and our state as a whole. That is, they have both private and public value.

In 2006, Kentucky’s investment to build that public strength covered 66% of the costs of public postsecondary education. Today, that investment is smaller and covering barely more than half of the cost. Meanwhile, the portion paid by individual students and their families has grown dramatically, increasing by nearly more than $3,000 and 88%. Here’s a chart showing the scale of the change:


For many students, this kind of rapidly rising costs may put higher education out of reach. For the state as a whole, this pattern risks another generation underprepared for economic and civic participation.

Source Note: Amounts above are calculated from the “SHEF Unadjusted Nominal Data” file downloaded from, using figures that exclude medical students and medical costs. The chart below provides a more detailed look at the yearly numbers and changes, including the odd-numbered years not shown in the chart above. 


Since 1983, the Prichard Committee has worked to study priority issues, inform the public and policy makers about best practices and engage citizens, business leaders, families, students, and other stakeholders in a shared mission to move Kentucky to the top tier of all states for education excellence and equity for all children, from their earliest years through postsecondary education.

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