Higher Education

WKU

The overwhelming majority of in-state students who get bachelor’s degrees from Kentucky’s public universities are remaining in the commonwealth.

A new report from the Center for Education and Workforce Statistics shows over 80 percent of Kentucky students who got a four-year degree from a state-funded school were working in the commonwealth a year later. On the other hand, only 30 percent of out-of-state students who graduate from Kentucky’s undergraduate programs stay in the commonwealth to work.

The report also gives a school-by-school breakdown of how many graduates stay in Kentucky versus those who leave the state, as well as a comparison of the average wages of each school’s degree holders.

You can see what the report had to say about the employment outcomes of WKU graduates here.

Charles McGrew, the executive director of the group behind the report, said schools can use the information to get a better idea of where their graduates are, and how they are doing.

“I think it’s difficult for faculty to know where all of their students go. Sometimes colleges do alumni surveys, but they may not be able to catch many of their alumni after the fact. So they don’t necessarily know how well they’re doing in the workforce, or possibly how long it takes to find a job, or whether they go on to graduate school,” McGrew told WKU Public Radio.

The price of a college education is soaring in America; so is the amount of student loan debt. President Obama has proposed regulations that would cap student loan payments at 10 percent of a graduate's income, and according to the latest Labor Department data, about a third of recent college graduates are either underemployed or jobless.

WKU

The budget passed by the Kentucky Senate this week has mixed news for WKU. Money for a capital project at the school was removed while other WKU-related funds were left intact.

The Senate’s budget deleted funding for most university capital projects, including bonds to fund a renovation of the Thompson Complex Center Wing, home to numerous WKU science classes.

However, the Senate budget does include funding for the Gatton Academy for Math and Science to support 80 additional students beginning in 2015.

The budget passed by the House includes bond funding for the Thompson Complex project and money to expand the Gatton Academy. But it also contains a 2.5 percent cut to higher education funding.

The Senate spending plan restored that higher education funding cut at the expense of most university capital projects.

Kevin Willis

A program being used at WKU is providing a better idea of what can be done to prevent students from leaving school before completing their degree.

The MAP-Works system helps identify at-risk students who take a voluntary survey. Students who appear to be struggling receive direct intervention by WKU faculty and staff who direct the student to programs that can help with academic, financial, or health issues.

Lindsey Gilmore, with the WKU enrollment management office, says she assumed money problems would be the top reason why students drop out. But she says MAP-Works shows that’s not the case.

"Generally, what MAP-Works does is let us see about five top issues our students are facing per classification, and lack of financial confidence is always in the top five, but it’s never number one."

Gilmore says MAP-Works shows the biggest stressors for WKU students include homesickness, test anxiety, study habits, and low peer connections.

More than 5,400 WKU students have been contacted or met with in person this academic year about their survey results. Gilmore says the school is working to get more students to take the MAP-Works survey. A little over 27 percent of WKU students completed the survey last fall.

WKU

The President of WKU says he’s not counting on a big tuition increase to help offset a proposed cut in state funding for universities.

Dr. Gary Ransdell says he believes the Council on Postsecondary Education will cap the next round of potential tuition increases at about three percent.

That’s the increase the CPE set last April for in-state undergraduate students beginning this fall. President Ransdell told WKU Public Radio that it’s probably not realistic to expect anything more than that.

“Even if the CPE would allow a higher number, we’re not likely to go there,” Dr. Ransdell said during a break in Friday’s Board of Regents meeting. “So we’re going to have a modest tuition increase. Every year there’s going to be a tuition increase. It will simply cover our fixed-cost increases. These other items are going to have to be funded in some other way—probably through redirection of funds within our budget.”

The proposed budget announced by Governor Beshear this week includes a 2.5 percent spending reduction for state universities, which amounts to a loss of $1.8 million for WKU in fiscal year 2015.

Kentucky minimum wage increase?

A proposed increase in Kentucky’s minimum wage would add an estimated $419,000 to WKU's current payroll obligations. Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring legislation that would boost the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, up from the current $7.25 an hour.

Tennessee Given New Higher Education Goal, Adviser

Jan 16, 2013

Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to set Tennessee on a path toward boosting college graduation rates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

Haslam has appointed Randy Boyd, chairman of wireless pet fence maker Radio Systems Corp., to help further that goal as his top higher education adviser.

Haslam said Boyd will join a working group tasked with finding ways to tackle what the governor called the "iron triangle" of affordability, access and quality issues for public colleges and universities in Tennessee.

The panel is made up the governor and the heads of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee systems.

Boyd will work full time but won't be paid.

A new honors college and international center at WKU and renovations to the University of Kentucky's football stadium and the University of Louisville are among the projects that will benefit from a bipartisan General Assembly agreement is allowing state universities to use their own ability to issue bonds for capital projects.

The soon-to-be approved projects were rejected during 2012 budget negotiations, but will be revived once lawmakers pass an authorization bill, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.

The plan allows for $363-million in renovation and construction projects at six of Kentucky's eight state universities.

Stumbo says the projects were rejected because of election-year politics — because House lawmakers are elected in even-numbered years — and secondly because universities made unreasonable bonding requests.

And while many projects were rejected last year, the newly agreed upon ones are ready to start immediately.

“We had asked at the end of the last session to bring us a realistic list, what can you accomplish, what is shovel ready, what do you have the funding sources identified for, what can you accomplish in this next year,” Stumbo says.

The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority is recommending that high school seniors who plan to further their education at a college or technical school this fall fill out paperwork as soon as possible for financial aid.

The paperwork is known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and the information determines whether students qualify for aid in the form of federal and state grants and federal student loans.

Some colleges also award their own grants and scholarships based on information contained in the FAFSA.

The state agency recommends submitting the application online here, but the papers can be mailed if necessary.

For more information, visit the Go to College website, or the KHEA website.

The University of Kentucky Senate Council says UK President Eli Capilouto has created a budget crisis. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported the faculty group sent a memo to Capilouto on Thursday in which members said they recognized dwindling state financial support was part of a cutback, but said the current budget crisis is largely due to presidential priorities that include more than $50 million in new spending.

The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority will start eight children on the road to college savings by opening accounts for them with initial $1,000 deposits. The children are the winners of a summer reading program sponsored by the KHEAA and the state Department for Library and Archives.

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