Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Executive Summary

Kentucky’s merit-based program, the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES), started in 1998 providing financial assistance to students attending higher education in-state based on high school academic achievements. The intended goal of KEES is elusive, however two key objectives are often mentioned with KEES. These are incentivizing and rewarding high school academic achievement and keeping high-performing students in Kentucky for their college education. This study aims to investigate whether Kentucky’s merit-based program keeps high-performing students in Kentucky for higher education.

The dataset available for this research was provided by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics from their high school feedback reports. The aggregate data are comprised of the three recent academic school years and all data are at the school level. An ordinal least squares regression was used to determine the relationship between the percent of high-performing Kentucky high school graduates from each public high school attending college out-of-state with other academic and demographic variables from each high school.

Results from this study showed that there is a very weak correlation between KEES and the out-of-state going rate suggesting the KEES program may not have an impact on students going to school out-of-state. However, the study showed that KEES money has more influence for high schools located in non-Appalachia for their out-of-state college going rate compared to high schools located in Appalachia in Kentucky. Lastly, the results also indicated that students from schools with a high percentage of participants in the free and reduced lunch program are less likely to attend higher education either in-state or out-of-state.



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