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CPE report identifies ways to support postsecondary students’ basic needs

Council on Postsecondary Education

A new report from Council on Postsecondary Education outlines strategies to assist Kentucky students in meeting basic needs. It’s the result of a year-long effort to understand and increase basic needs supports for currently enrolled students and find strategies to connect more public assistance recipients to postsecondary programs. With funding support from Lumina Foundation, the report outlines eight recommendations to assist those college students. Officials say some of the issues they face include a lack of affordable food, housing, and other necessities.

Kentucky Student Success Collaborative’s executive director, Lilly Massa-McKinley, said the report found straight-forward ways to help students.

“We have a significant proportion of our students in Kentucky receive a Pell Grant, which is a federal grant program for those that have the greatest finical need,” said Massa-McKinley. “Those students should all be screened for eligibility for some public benefit assistance which can really help decrease the unmet need that they have and help them support their food security as they are perusing postsecondary education. Another that I think is a really critical element of this is looking at childcare availability and affordability.”

The report’s recommendations include benefits eligibility screening for students and providing training for postsecondary faculty and staff to make referrals to assistance programs.

McKinley said stakeholders from across the state came together to figure out how to support these students.

“What I think has been critical to the last year’s work and the ongoing momentum and energy and partnership and commitment to help students from low income backgrounds has really been just the spirit of collaboration,” McKinley said. “I just want to recognize the partners who have put in a tremendous amount of time, energy and commitment into supporting this work. It’s been a team effort and I’m really excited, I think it is going to be a win, win, win for our entire state.”

According to Kentucky’s Strategies and Recommendations to Address Students’ Basic Needs, in 2021 only 38% of Kentuckians graduated with a high school diploma or less. Only 18% received their bachelor’s degree.

The report is available on Council on Postsecondary Education’s website.