NASHVILLE — Student loans to attend a Tennessee college are too easy to acquire and sometimes given to students who aren’t college material, according to a small sampling of students at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

grad cap and moneyReported statistics might back up their claims.

Those loans don’t just burden students — to a degree, they also burden taxpayers.

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University officials hire state employees to process those loans, said Tennessee Higher Education Commission spokesman Russ Deaton.

The more student loans given, the more state employees are needed to process those loans, although information on just how many loans are given out was unavailable Thursday.

The costs for higher education in Tennessee may rise soon.

“Getting a student loan here is actually scary easy,” said MTSU graduate student Andy Griffin. “They basically offer you loans whenever you get accepted. All you have to do is accept it online. Most of the time they offer you way more than you need, and it’s hard to say no to that money, but you put yourself in a lot of debt.”

MTSU junior Nathan Curl said the same thing.

“Basically, if you’re in school you get a student loan. You could have billions of dollars in unpaid loans and still get it. It’s a trap, man.”

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MTSU senior Dillon Kotsch, meanwhile, told Tennessee Watchdog he doesn’t rely on student loans, but that didn’t stop university officials from encouraging him to take them anyway.

MTSU spokesman Jimmy Hart disagreed with how those students analyzed the situation. Hart also said university officials take great care to counsel students on the seriousness of taking out a loan.

Another MTSU student, Nick Shokur, said he sees students who don’t try that hard.

“They just come here because they get scholarships — and people who do deserve scholarships don’t get as much as they should. They have to work. They have to get student loans,” Shokur said.

Hart wouldn’t say what the school’s dropout rate is, preferring instead to cite the school’s most recent full-time freshmen retention rate of 78.1 percent.

Last year, Nashville’s News Channel 5, citing THEC numbers, reported that nearly half of MTSU students don’t graduate and nearly a fifth don’t make it past freshman year.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, meanwhile, had a 68 percent graduation rate, while Tennessee Tech’s and UT-Martin’s graduation rates were 55 percent and 54 percent, respectively, the station reported.

Forbes reported that 95 percent of MTSU’s students are on financial aid.

On top of those costs, THEC is recommending a possible tuition increase of 2 to 4 percent for college students statewide. THEC is also requesting an additional $40 million in state funding for all public higher education, said Tennessee Board of Regents spokeswoman Monica Greppin-Watts.

Authored by Christopher Butler – Tennessee Watchdog