FRANKFORT — Kentucky State University has experienced record enrollment growth in its freshmen class. The total number of freshmen enrolled from June 1 (194 students) to the beginning of the fall semester (510 students) showed an extraordinary surge of 162 percent. 

However, a number of students are still struggling to close the tuition gap given the change in federal student financial aid.

The KSU Foundation will host its inaugural KSU Forward Campaign for Student Scholarships and University Growth scholarship luncheon Friday, Oct. 20 at noon in the William Exum Center. Funds raised will support student scholarships for tuition, fees and books.

Country music star and Flatwoods, Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus, whose breakout hit ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ is celebrating its 25th anniversary, will headline the luncheon.

Cyrus recently performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with his daughter, Miley Cyrus. The singer has a new album, ‘Set the Record Straight,’ set to release Nov. 10. He currently has tour dates set in the United States and Australia through 2018.

President Brown, a Charleston, South Carolina native, said he was raised on gospel and country music during the era of the Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, Dolly Parton and the Charlie Daniels Band.

When President Brown attended the University of Kentucky for his master’s degree, the number one country song in America was Cyrus’ ‘Achy Breaky Heart.’

“Kentucky State University is committed to ensuring more students choose Kentucky State, more students graduate and more students start their careers in Kentucky, strengthening the Commonwealth. Gifts to the KSU Forward Campaign will have an immediate impact on the lives of our students and is the best way to help our students succeed,” President Brown said.

Individual tickets for the luncheon are $125 and a table of eight is $860. Sponsorships, tickets and tables are available for purchase. For more information, contact Sonia Sanders at engagement@kysu.edu or (502) 234-4970.

The scholarship luncheon will occur after the KSU Founder’s Day Convocation, which is part of a weeklong celebration of Homecoming at KSU.