Non-Students Still Getting College Loans

(Memphis) Some college students are getting government loan money without even going to classes.

It’s happening right here in Tennessee.

It puts a burden on the college loan program and on you the taxpayer.

WREG investigated how they’re getting away with it.

The costs of tuition and fees at Tennessee universities is rising which makes obtaining loan money even more important.

“I’m in dental school and just the cost of the equipment is pretty pricey so it’s a huge help,” said Savannah Hughes, UT Student.

An annual audit by the state’s comptroller office found some University of Tennessee schools are giving them out to students who aren’t even enrolled.

“That’s frustrating because some of us don’t have financial aid. To know that some people would be using it and abusing it, it’s really not fair,” said UT Student Lauren Teachout.

The comptroller sampled 40 student loans at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and found five of those students either were only part time, had withdrawn from classes, or already graduated.

The university wasn’t reporting its status.

The audit also showed some students were being awarded loans and weren’t academically eligible before they applied.

Re-payment usually begins soon after a student is no longer eligible.

That’s why students may not be so quick to notify anyone about a change.

“If they’ve got a lump of money sitting in an account somewhere, they’re probably not in too big of a hurry to say hey I’m not there. I don’t need this,” said Grant King, UT student.

While the federal government pays the cost of student loans, states are also on the hook.

The more students get academic aid, the more employees the schools must pay to process them.

Your state tax money pays their salaries.

A spokesperson from the University of Tennessee told us it’s working to correct problems by adding more review procedures.

It also promises to review and test these procedures often to ensure they’re working.

UT will repay some of the money that shouldn’t have been awarded to students.

The state found discrepancies at the UT Martin campus as well.

So far, no problems at UT Memphis.