NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A new report has uncovered troubling findings within Tennessee's Higher Education system.
The State Comptroller's Office discovered while Tennessee has some of the lowest graduation rates in the country, students have some of the highest numbers when it comes to student debt. The report also exposed how challenging it can be for college kids to transfer classes.
Two years ago state lawmakers passed what's called the Complete College Tennessee Act. It was supposed to make it easier for students to transfer classes from one learning institution to another, but a report found improvements are in place but not in every major.
State Representative Sherry Jones was surprised to read the Complete College Act isn't helping everyone.
"That's something that I think the General Assembly thought we were passing, but I believe there should be effort made to go back and make sure that everybody's credits transfer, because how can you move on and move up if you are not transferring everything," she said.
The Tennessee Board of Regents one of the governing bodies of higher education acknowledged there are issues. In a statement, they say "The Complete College Tennessee Act is a great step in the right direction to increase the educational attainment levels of our workforce. Unfortunately, the funding to support those goals has gone in the opposite direction. While much as been accomplished toward our goals, much remains to be done, and we look forward to working with our State leaders."
The report also found while high school graduation rates are slightly above the national average - Tennessee's college grad rates are below the national average. In fact: only 19 percent of 9th graders graduate from college on time.
With such dismal results - Representative Jones was also surprised to learn Tennesseeans spend more tax dollars on higher education than in 42 other states.
Unfortunately the debt burden for Tennessee's college students is higher than in 41 other states.
"In January we should probably go back and look at the whole thing - and see where the department and where the comptroller and where everyone thinks the problems are, and address those problems, and make that plan be, everything we thought it would be to begin with," said Jones.
The Tennessee Board of Regents said state funding for higher education has actually dropped. They said over ten year state dollars has dropped almost 30-percent for universities, and 23-percent for community colleges.
The Comptroller's report also found the average debt burden for Tennessee students is around $19,000.