Dr. Jason Warren
While legislators are meeting in Frankfort during this year’s General Assembly session, they will look for ways to improve Kentucky’s communities, grow the state’s workforce and provide an affordable way for students to attend and pay for college.

As the 16 college presidents of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), we not only share these important goals, but our faculty and staff work every day to better the lives of Kentuckians through education, training and personal growth. With support from our legislators, we can do even more for our students, employers, and communities.

KCTCS strives to make college as affordable and flexible as possible. Attending a KCTCS college means students can go two years for less than the price of one year at most universities. Additionally, only 18 percent of our students take out student loans, and those who do, borrow less than $5,000 a year. For these reasons, KCTCS students incur significantly less student debt than other college students in Kentucky.

Our popular dual-credit program allows high school students to take classes at their schools or on a KCTCS campus to earn college credits and save money. Over the last five years, the number of KCTCS students taking dual-credit courses has nearly doubled and now accounts for about 18 percent of our total enrollment. Last year, Kentucky families saved $18 million because of dual credit scholarships.

We are encouraging legislators to increase the funding for the dual-credit scholarship programs. By doing this, KCTCS will be able to provide even better opportunities for high school students in Kentucky.

KCTCS is the largest provider of higher education, workforce training and online classes in Kentucky. Nearly 107,000 students attended KCTCS last year. Our colleges have partnerships with some of Kentucky's largest employers - including Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, Baptist Health, Amazon and UPS. These partnerships allow us to tailor our curriculum to the needs of the business, which prepares our students to walk out of college and into a job.

Producing new skilled workers and providing training and certifications to existing workers also are a key focus. In 2018-19, more than 78 percent of the credentials our students earned were in the state’s five targeted industry sectors: advanced manufacturing, business and information technology, construction/skilled trades, healthcare, and transportation and logistics. In addition, we provided more than 5,200 Kentucky companies and almost 110,000 workers with training.

During this legislative session, legislators, working with Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration, also will craft a two-year budget for the state. KCTCS is supporting two legislative priorities of the Council on Post-Secondary Education (CPE).

One is reinvestment in higher education. All Kentucky higher education institutions are funded based solely on their performance in several specific areas, such as graduation rates. KCTCS supports performance-based funding because it challenges us to continuously improve. However, funding over the last few years has not been enough to offset years of cuts. Therefore, KCTCS is supporting CPE’s legislative request to increase funding.

The second CPE request is for funding to improve existing buildings and facilities at all higher education campuses throughout Kentucky, with a 50 percent match from the institution. This investment in our buildings will help us make repairs and updates, such as new HVAC systems and roofs. These updates help reduce operating costs, provide a better environment for our students and faculty and help ensure the safety of our students, employees, and visitors.

Because of the important contributions our colleges continue to bring to our communities, we will be actively engaged in this year’s legislative session, informing legislators and advocating for our students, staff and local employers to deliver on the promise that better lives lead to a better Kentucky. For more information, visit betterlivesky.com.

Jason D. Warren, PhD
Henderson Community College

Dr. Larry Ferguson, President of Ashland Community and Technical College; Dr. Sherry Zylka, President of Big Sandy Community and Technical College; Dr. Koffi Akakpo, President of Bluegrass Community and Technical College; Dr. Juston Pate, President of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College; Dr. Fernando Figueroa, President of Gateway Community and Technical College; Dr. Jennifer Lindon, President of Hazard Community and Technical College; Dr. Alissa Young, President of Hopkinsville Community College; Dr. Ty Handy, President of Jefferson Community and Technical College; Dr. Cynthia Kelley, President of Madisonville Community College; Dr. Steve Vacik, President of Maysville Community and Technical College; Dr. Scott Williams, President of Owensboro Community and Technical College; Dr. Carey Castle, President of Somerset Community College; Dr. Phil Neal, President of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College; Dr. Vic Adams, President of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College; Dr. Anton Reece, President of West Kentucky Community and Technical College