Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to set Tennessee on a path toward boosting college graduation rates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.
Haslam has appointed Randy Boyd, chairman of wireless pet fence maker Radio Systems Corp., to help further that goal as his top higher education adviser.
Haslam said Boyd will join a working group tasked with finding ways to tackle what the governor called the "iron triangle" of affordability, access and quality issues for public colleges and universities in Tennessee.
The panel is made up the governor and the heads of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee systems.
A new honors college and international center at WKU and renovations to the University of Kentucky's football stadium and the University of Louisville are among the projects that will benefit from a bipartisan General Assembly agreement is allowing state universities to use their own ability to issue bonds for capital projects.
The soon-to-be approved projects were rejected during 2012 budget negotiations, but will be revived once lawmakers pass an authorization bill, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.
The plan allows for $363-million in renovation and construction projects at six of Kentucky's eight state universities.
Stumbo says the projects were rejected because of election-year politics — because House lawmakers are elected in even-numbered years — and secondly because universities made unreasonable bonding requests.
And while many projects were rejected last year, the newly agreed upon ones are ready to start immediately.
“We had asked at the end of the last session to bring us a realistic list, what can you accomplish, what is shovel ready, what do you have the funding sources identified for, what can you accomplish in this next year,” Stumbo says.
The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority is recommending that high school seniors who plan to further their education at a college or technical school this fall fill out paperwork as soon as possible for financial aid.
The paperwork is known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and the information determines whether students qualify for aid in the form of federal and state grants and federal student loans.
Some colleges also award their own grants and scholarships based on information contained in the FAFSA.
The state agency recommends submitting the application online here, but the papers can be mailed if necessary.