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Colleges in Kentucky Struggling to Boost Graduation Rates for Black, Low Income Students

Colleges and universities in Kentucky have failed to meet some major goals to help boost graduation rates among Black and low-income students, leaving officials scrambling to put an end to the education disparities.

Kentucky aimed to drastically increase graduate rates for the 2012-2013 school year but the latest accountability report by the Council of Postsecondary Education revealed that the schools just aren’t reaching those goals when it comes to their Black and low-income students.

The results of the report are expected to be discussed on Friday with a particular focus on some the studies more concerning numbers.

The report revealed that nearly half of the college students graduated within six years but only 33 percent of students of color graduated in that same time frame.

That’s down four percentage points since the 2009 – 2010 school year.

As for low-income students, the numbers were just as troubling with only 37 percent of them graduating within six years.

While this did increase from the previous school year, it was an extremely slight change that failed to impress Council President Robert King.

“This is a serious challenge,” King said as he argued that such disparities called for immediate, renewed attention. “The gap is getting larger at many of our institutions.”

Rates for students obtaining associate degrees in three years also fell for both groups of students.

Only seven percent of students of color reached this goal and 10 percent of low-income students.

King stressed that times are different now and it’s up to everyone who is a part of the educational process to realize that it is their job to help students stay in school and obtain their degrees.

“It wasn’t that long ago that kids went to college and faculty would tell them… it’s not our problem if you flunk or drop out,” King said. “Today we look at this very differently.”

With that being said, King is ready to explore a variety of solutions to help close that educational gap.

One of the most obvious issues seemed to be finances.

FloresCaseStudy-fig1The amount of grants for low-income students have been declining and leaving some students without the financial backing to continue their collegiate careers.

More than 107,000 students who qualified for financial aid did not receive it this year, one report revealed, according to the Courier Journal.

Funding has been another problem for universities across the country.

The same report noted that the general fun appropriations for each full-time student fell from more than $1,000 in 2009 – 2010 to $916 in 2012 – 2013.

The report said that after considering the rising cost of college, the amount of financial aid available for low-income students is absolutely key.

Despite failed attempts to boost graduate rates for low-income students and students of color, Kentucky schools did manage to meet some of their goals for the past academic year.

The “readiness of college entrants” rose from 52 percent to nearly 70 percent over the course of two academic years.

The schools also managed to increase the number of students who earned degrees in science, technology, engineering and health related fields and boosted the number of transfers from community and technical colleges.

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