Group shot of graduates in line

About the Campaign


The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, in partnership with the public colleges and universities, created the Higher Education Matters campaign to improve public understanding that postsecondary education is key to greater opportunity and economic growth. While media stories and surveys debate higher education’s value, and as Kentucky undergraduate enrollment has declined, the campaign seeks to combat misinformation and lack of information to restore the value proposition of higher education in Kentucky.

The campaign supports the new strategic agenda for higher education, Higher Education Matters: A Statewide Strategic Agenda for Kentucky Postsecondary Education. This eight-year plan, which includes input from hundreds of people from across the state, reinforces the big 60x30 goal—that 60% of working-age Kentuckians will have a college credential by 2030.

Why Higher Education Matters

Dental student in class

Having a college credential is more important than ever. On average, college graduates in Kentucky earn more money, have lower rates of unemployment, enjoy better health, live longer and are more active citizens and volunteers.

In September 2021, CPE released a study showing that among Kentucky’s high school class of 2011, college graduates were earning substantially more money than high school graduates, despite fewer years of full-time work. The typical public college or university graduate recouped their higher education investment in about three to five years, depending on the credential earned. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kentuckians with bachelor’s degrees make about $1 million more than high school graduates over the course of their careers, while associate degree graduates make nearly half a million more.

Since America’s Great Recession, 99% of all new jobs created require some level of postsecondary education and training, but less than half of Americans between the ages of 25-34 have the necessary credentials to fill these jobs.

Higher education matters to the public good because it increases tax revenue, decreases unemployment and entitlement program expenses, improves health outcomes and produces a myriad of benefits that can’t easily be quantified, like increases in volunteerism and voting.

The Need

The in-state college-going rate of high school graduates has been steadily declining. Fewer nontraditional adult students are enrolling for the first time or returning to finish a credential. And, Kentucky is in the midst of a workforce crisis. The state ranks 48th in the nation in workforce participation.

If we don’t get this turned around, we won’t be able to reach our 60x30 goal, which is critical to providing opportunity for more Kentuckians, accelerating job creation and growing the economy.

Graph showing 5% decline of college-going rate


The goal of the campaign is to improve public understanding that postsecondary education is key to greater opportunity and economic growth and encourage high school graduates and adults to pursue college credentials.

Target Audiences

Changemakers – Higher Education and P-12 community, state policymakers, alumni, SGA, employers, general public.

Prospective Students – traditional and adult students and their families, including low-income, underemployed, unemployed, and underrepresented populations.

Become an Advocate

Get the data and talking points for messaging.

Use Our Toolkit

Find resources to help you spread the message.


  • Use alumni video stories and ROI data to tell the story of why higher education matters. 
    Implement a paid, earned, owned and shared campaign. Social will consist of TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
  • Tap into GEAR UP Kentucky’s sponsorship program to run ads statewide.  
    Drive all campaign traffic to the website to connect them with video stories, resources and links to campuses.
  • Engage campuses and other educational and workforce partners to amplify our messaging. 
    Promote organic social media.


The campaign is designed to speak to the people in our state who don’t feel there is a place for them in higher education or who don’t view it as a realistic option. We’re here to tell them that it is and show them how to get there.

  • College can change the trajectory of your life.
  • You are capable of succeeding in college (If I did it, you can do it too!)  
  • There are resources available to you—counselors, financial aid, other student supports on campuses. 
  • College will help you advance your career.  
  • Higher education matters because it pays in so many ways:
    • Higher lifetime wages and a path to successful careers.  
    • Better health outcomes.  
    • A more highly skilled workforce for employers.  
    • Higher levels of educational attainment attract new business to Kentucky so our communities can thrive.
    • College-graduates are more likely to vote, volunteer in their communities and support their children’s education.  
  • First-person narratives:
    • College can advance your career and give you more job opportunities.
    • My credential/certificate/degree helped me get where I am today. 
    • You are capable of succeeding in college. I didn’t think I was college material, but if I did it, you can do it too!
    • There are resources available to you—counseling, financial aid, other student supports on campuses.
    • Everyone should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for free money for college.
    • No matter what your goals are or what stage of life you are in, there is a place for you in higher education.  
    • College is not just 4-year degrees. I went to trade school, and it helped me get my job.

Campaign Period

Feb. 9-June 30, 2022


The campaign is an initiative of CPE in partnership with Kentucky’s colleges and universities. CPE is also working with other education and workforce partners to amplify the messaging.