• Mike Brown is the Director of Communications at LendEDU.

According to LendEDU’s fifth annual report Student Loan Debt Report by School and State, the average Class of 2019 Tennessee student loan borrower had a debt balance of $ 28,821.

For the volunteer state, that figure was a 7.38% year-over-year increase from its 2018 class figure, and it ranked 24th in ranking each state’s figure from the lower to higher.

Higher education institutions in the state that had higher debt-to-borrower figures for the 2019 class included the University of Memphis ($ 30,931), Maryville College ($ 29,844), and Carson University. -Newman ($ 28,014).

Schools that helped keep Tennessee’s debt down the middle of the road included Lincoln Memorial University ($ 22,290), Trevecca Nazarene University ($ 24,895), Austin Peay State University ($ 25,938) and the Rhodes College ($ 26,155).

A second report from LendEDU found that Tennessee’s student loan default rate was 9.87%, which was the 30th lowest in the country by ranking each state’s default rate from lowest to highest.

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Similar to how its average debt per borrower grew year over year, Tennessee’s default rate also rose 1.03% from the previous year.

As the data would suggest, Tennessee’s student loan debt situation is sort of stuck in neutral. However, there are ways to move it in the right direction.

Online Continuing Education Option

First, Tennessee should work on developing a premier continuing online education option for use in its public institutions. This would be aimed at students who now prefer virtual learning after being forced into it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such a program could reduce student debt in the state, as it would be much more affordable than the traditional in-person higher education experience, making students less dependent on student loans to fund their degrees.

Partial reimbursement of tuition fees in the event of a pandemic

Second, Tennessee is expected to issue a partial pandemic tuition refund to students who attended public institutions last spring when the coronavirus pandemic caused colleges to close and go online.

While these students paid for the full college experience, they simply did not receive it and should be reimbursed accordingly. The move would reduce student loan debt in the state, as students can either use that repayment money to pay off old loans or pay future tuition fees out of pocket rather than using loans.

Forgive first responder loans

Third, Tennessee should build on its small student loan cancellation program by launching a program to cancel student loans for pandemic first responders like nurses, paramedics, law enforcement. and firefighters.

If a student who attended Tennessee State College ended up in any of the aforementioned professions within the state and served during the pandemic, they should be eligible for cancellation of their loan debts. student if he continues to serve the state and make successful student loan payments for the next 36 months.

Excessive student debt repayment continues to hamper the financial progress of so many young Americans, including those in Tennessee. By innovating with solutions to reduce student debt, we can enable our young adults to get rid of their debt faster and get back to their lives.

Mike Brown is the Director of Communications for EDU loan.

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