UK President says more state funding is crucial to helping meet Obama's call for keeping tuition low

08/28/2013 12:35 PM

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto is pleased with the university’s graduation rate and tuition, which went up by 3 percent for this year, but says that will be hard to continue without the help of the state.

President Barack Obama announced last week that his administration plans to link federal funding for student grants and aides to how well the university does in keeping its tuition low and graduation rates high. The White House’s online tracking of higher education accountability that it made public in February shows the University of Kentucky on the high end for graduation rate and the low end for tuition prices and median amount borrowed to pay for education.

Capilouto said usually 50 percent of a normal graduating class from the University of Kentucky leave the university with some form of debt, averaging around $23,000. But Capiluto believes it is worth the investment.

“One of the benchmarks you will hear out there is that you shouldn’t assume more debt than you expect to earn in your first year at a real job. Our students clearly earn more than that,” Capilouto said.

Capilouto said the difference between what a high school graduate earns in Kentucky and one with a college degree yields a larger return on investment than in other states.

“So looking at that tuition number doesn’t give the complete picture,” Capilouto explained (at 2:15).

Capilouto said the university is working hard to keep tuition cost down. And the school has been able to keep tuition increases at three percent, something Capilouto says could be threatened without the help of state funds.

“Life is going to be a lot easier certainly for Kentuckians if the state is able to step up,” Capilouto said (at 3:40 in interview above).

The state has been a help to the university, especially in the way of research. And Capilouto says the investments the state made in the University of Kentucky has lead to the advancements the university has made in the research field. But that will have to continue in order for UK to compete, starting with more space for research labs.

“Research is expensive, it creates lots of jobs, high paying jobs, lots of breakthroughs and discoveries, improves quality of life and extends life on issues like cancer that deeply affect Kentucky,” Capilouto said (at 1:00 in video below). “We can’t self-finance this alone.”

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Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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