“Opportunity Costs: Is A College Education Affordable Today?” Media Coverage


Affordability Report Spotlights Key Obstacle to College
“Working your way” through school is not an option for many families

A college affordability study looking at Louisville and Kentucky higher education colleges found that “all too often, the numbers just won’t add up” when it comes to Louisville families wanting to send a student to college, without resorting to loans.
While “working your way” through college is often held up as an ideal for students, this report examined what that would realistically look like for ten hypothetical college students and found that it was unrealistic for many of them.
This illuminating approach was adapted from the Institute for Higher Education’s methodology from their recent “Limited Means, Limited Opportunity” report and uses the Lumina Foundation’s Rule of 10 to measure affordability, by comparing potential savings and part-time job earnings to net cost.
Key Findings:
• Only two of the ten hypothetical students could afford to go to any Louisville college using savings and “working their way” through school, without taking out loans.
• Only one of the 10 could afford any Kentucky four-year public college.
• Even the students from families making six figures could not afford every school in the state, without loans.
What’s affordable?

The Lumina “Rule of Ten” defined “affordable” in simple terms. It assumes that:
• Families save 10 percent of their discretionary income for each of the 10 years leading up to college.
• Students work 10 hours a week while going to college.

Those savings and earnings are then compared to the “net tuition” at Kentucky and regional public and private schools.

Bottomline: The report stresses that this is not a statistical look at Jefferson County families, but it nevertheless examines what “affordable” would look like for different families at different income levels. The result was clear. Many families, of all income levels, will struggle to pay for college without debt.

Insider Louisville: https://insiderlouisville.com/metro/education-community/report-college-education-becoming-more-important-less-affordable/

Insider Louisville (Newcomers Academy): https://insiderlouisville.com/metro/after-horrors-of-syria-and-yemen-esl-newcomer-teens-try-to-find-peace-in-louisville/

WFPL: https://wfpl.org/this-friday-summit-focuses-on-college-affordability-and-jobs/

Wave: http://www.wave3.com/story/37029121/study-8-out-of-10-families-in-louisville-cant-afford-college

The Paducah Sun: http://www.paducahsun.com/opinion/stretched-college-cost-study-truly-an-eye-opener/article_d8539138-3174-526b-8034-4ee62ed24c33.html

Talent Hubs Across the United States

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Lead Partner Organization: United Way of Central New Mexico (Graduate! ABQ)

Austin, Texas

Lead Partner Organization: Quality of Life Foundation of Austin (Austin Chamber of Commerce)

Boston, Massachusetts

Lead Partner Organization: The Boston Foundation

Cincinnati, Ohio

Lead Partner Organization: Strive Partnership (Intergenerational Success Project)

Columbus, Indiana & Northern Kentucky (Covington, KY; Newport, KY)

Lead Partner Organization: Community Education Coalition / EcO Network

Columbus and Southeast Indiana

Lead Partner Organization: Community Education Coalition / EcO Network

Dayton, Ohio

Lead Partner Organization: Learn to Earn Dayton

Denver, Colorado

Lead Partner Organization: Denver Education Attainment Network (DEAN)

Fresno, California

Lead Partner Organization: Central Valley Higher Education Consortium / Fresno Compact

Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley), California

Lead Partner Organization: UNITE-LA

Louisville, Kentucky

Lead Partner Organization: 55,000 Degrees

Nashville, Tennessee

Lead Partner Organization: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

New York City, New York

Lead Partner Organization: City University of New York Academic Affairs

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lead Partner Organization: Graduate! Philadelphia

Racine, Wisconsin

Lead Partner Organization: Higher Expectations for Racine County

Richmond, Virginia

Lead Partner Organization: Bridging Richmond

Shasta County, California

Lead Partner Organization: North State Together

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Lead Partner Organization: Tulsa Regional Chamber



Kentucky Work Ready Scholarship Application Now Open

Originally posted on the KHEAA Work Ready webpage.

The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship helps Kentuckians who have not yet earned an associate’s degree afford an industry-recognized certificate.

  • Student must:
    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Be a Kentucky resident
    • Be a high school or GED graduate
    • Have not earned an associate’s or higher degree
    • Be enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, at an eligible postsecondary institution in an approved program of study that leads to an industry recognized certificate in a high-demand workforce sector.
      • Qualifying areas for the 2017-2018 year are health care, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, business services/IT, and construction
    • Not be in default on any obligation to KHEAA
  • Application:
  • Award:
    • Amount equals tuition amount minus federal and state grants and scholarships, up to the maximum amount.
    • Maximum amount shall not exceed the in-state tuition and fees rate for full-time enrollment at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Estimated near $3,900 for the 2017-2018 year.
  • Eligibility:
    • Expires when the first of the following conditions is met:
      • Receipt of scholarship funding for the equivalent of four academic terms;
      • Receipt of the scholarship for 32 credit hours of enrollment; or
      • Receipt of a first associate’s degree
    • Recipients must earn a grade point average of 2.0 or higher each semester the scholarship is received in order to be eligible the following semester.

Looking Back at the Power Forward Summit

On December 9, 2016, KentuckianaWorks, 55K and GLI, sponsored Power Forward, the Louisville Region Education and Workforce Summit. The summit, which was attended by over 250 people, picked up on last year’s call to accelerate progress with two main themes:

  • Making stronger connections between education and employers. Keynote speakers included Peter Cappelli, professor of Management at The Wharton School (Penn) and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, and Dr. Kate Ziemer, Associate Vice Provost of Curriculum and Professor of Chemical engineering at Northeastern University. Cappelli is also the author of Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make, and his presentation called for a “shorter supply chain” between employers and higher education. Ziemer’s presentation explored Northeastern University’s Co-op Program for cooperative education and career development which integrates rigorous classroom study with real-world experiences to create a self-directed learning pathway for students.  KentuckianaWorks’ Career Calculator and SummerWorks programs were also highlighted.
  • Tackling policies and practices to improve equity in student outcomes. Presentations on the Tennessee Promise, Redlining Louisville, and concentrated poverty in Louisville explored the historic policies and current realities of inequity, and potential solutions.

View the presentations from our speakers below. (In chronological order)

Peter Cappelli – Meeting the human capital challenges of the business community

Mary Gwen Wheeler – Fast Forward to Power Forward

Michael Gritton – KentuckianaWorks Career Calculator

Haley Glover – What the data says about employer investments in their employees’ education

Rob Lauber – Changing lives through employee education

Paul Diaz – The importance and opportunity of youth employment

Kate Derrick – The Tennessee Promise and what it could mean for Kentucky

John Marshall – How JCPS is helping every student to succeed

Kate Ziemer – How universal co-ops have transformed Northeastern University

Andrew Melin – Career Readiness in Clark County Schools

Lilly Massa-McKinley – Bellarmine’s promise to get an internship for every student who wants one


Please check back in as we add more presentations from our speakers.

FAFSA Is Now Open! Have You Filed?

This year’s FAFSA comes with important changes, the first being an early release date. Rather than waiting until January to open, the FAFSA opened on October 1st! Don’t fall for the myth that the FAFSA can’t help you; many schools require a FAFSA to give any aid at all, including work-study awards or student loans. Head on over to FAFSA.ed.gov to get started.


An earlier release date means earlier tax information. This year is a “prior prior” year, which means you’ll use 2015 taxes for your 2017-2018 FAFSA. You’ll also have to create a FSA ID (if you don’t already have one) before filling out this year’s FAFSA this year. A FSA ID is an electronic signature that verifies your identity, and you need an email address to create it. Learn more about the FSA ID here.


Remember: Kentucky awards financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis, so waiting to file your FAFSA could make you lose out on state aid.


If you want guidance for this year’s FAFSA, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) is hosting FAFSA completion events at libraries and schools all throughout October. These walk-in events are free and open to the public, so make sure to attend with plenty of questions!


Catholic Enrichment Center

3146 W Broadway, 40211 9am-12pm


Main Library

301 York St, 40203 2pm-4pm


Seneca HS

3510 Goldsmith Ln, 40220 5-7pm


Southwest Library

9725 Dixie Hwy,  40272 10-12pm


Fern Creek HS

9115 Fern Creek Rd, 40291 6-8pm


Jeffersontown HS

9600 Old 6 Mile Ln, 40299 5-8:30pm


Moore HS

6415 Outer Loop, 40228 6-8pm



5901 Greenwood Rd, 40258 6-7:30


Louisville Urban League

1535 W Broadway, 40203 6-7:30pm


Louisville Recognized as Culture of Health Prize Winner

Louisville has been selected to receive the 2016 RWJF Culture of Health prize for its efforts in improving community health and well-being. 55,000 Degrees was recognized as a contributing force in these efforts through a collective impact approach, giving Louisville residents a greater chance at obtaining degrees and improving their quality of life.