Getting Kentucky students into state colleges and universities--that's what one state leader in education is stressing.
The president for the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education made a stop in Bowling Green to talk about the importance of young minds hitting the books.
Bob King wants the state to be competitive and committed to education.
He says even when money is tight for Kentucky and Kentucky families, the good news is more young people are graduating college.
That's a trend he wants to keep.
"Just because I graduate doesn't mean I'm going to get a job," said WKU Senior Tai Gibson.
Gibson hopes to become an accountant.
She's taking two summer business classes, but fronting the bill?
"I kind of worry about that a lot," she said.
Like so many others, Gibson is working two-part time jobs to get that degree.
And during tough times, paying for it isn't easy.
"School's really just getting more expensive," she said.
But school officials say don't get discouraged.
"Yes, our students are incurring some debt, but it's probably the best investment they'll make in their lives," said Bob King, president of the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education.
He says the state is seeing significant progress with young people earning higher degrees, despite college costs.
"Even though tuition rates have been climbing, the amount of financial aid available to low and middle, and even some upper income students is extraordinary in this state," he said.
But even King agrees doing "more with less" is a challenge for state universities.
"We are, but at some point you start to run up against compromising quality, which is what we don't want to do--that's really what we're about," King said.
That's why he's efforting a broader challenge to the state.
He says political leaders and lawmakers should realize that Kentucky must be committed to education.
"The best thing they can do for their son or daughter is to make sure they get as much education as they can get," he said.
Giving Tai Gibson her chance at a career.
King went on to say another major challenge for the state is its K12 system, and doing a better job of getting kids ready for college.
He says attracting more high-performing people to teach is key, and a commitment to higher compensation for them is a necessity.