Kentucky’s colleges and universities awarded more degrees than ever before in the 2013-14 academic year, according to a report by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
More than 63,000 degrees and credentials were awarded during the 2013-14 school year—1.2 percent more than last year, but 60 percent more than a decade ago.
The increase can be attributed to institutions “reaching out and encouraging more people to attend” and improvements in the state’s public school system, said Robert King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, the state agency that oversees higher education.
“All of that goes to improve the quality of our workforce and strengthen the state’s economy,” King told WFPL on Monday.
Here's a breakdown of state schools:
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Of course, tuition has increased in recent years—and so has debt. More students graduating from colleges or universities, whether public or private, can also translate into more people being in debt from student loans.
“Slowly but surely, the amount of debt that is accumulating as a consequence of going to college is increasing,” King said.
The average debt load taken on by a student who graduates from a Kentucky college or university is about $22,000, King said. The national average of student loan debt is $29,400, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
“That’s a lot of money to a young person,” he said. “But (education) is still the single best investment a person can make for their future.”
The decline of state financial support has put more of the cost burden on students, King said.
The number of students earning baccalaureate degrees increased most among independent schools at 9.6 percent, whereas public institutions increased just 1.6 percent.
The total number of students earning master's degrees was the only major degree category to see a decline, with nearly 7 percent less degrees awarded this academic school year than last year.
The University of Kentucky conferred the most degrees during the 2013-2014 school year, with just more than 6,000.
The University of Louisville awarded just more than 4,800 degrees this academic year—up 27 percent from 2003-2004. Graduate certificates awarded by UofL increase more than 400 percent in the same decade, the highest among any school in the state.