The data on default rates of student loans doesn't look favorable for Maysville Community and Technical College.
But Dr. Ed Story, president of MCTC cautions the data isn't official yet and Kentucky Community and Technical College staff are working with the U.S. Department of Education to verify the official default rate for MCTC.
"Even if it's close to that, we're not very happy with it," said Story of a recent news article that indicates MCTC has a 29 percent three-year default rate on student loans.
The story reviewed data on private for profit schools, public four-year schools and public less-than-four-year schools. Of the 81 Kentucky schools eligible for federal student loan programs, 35 showed a three-year default rate for 2008 that was higher than the national average of 13.8 percent, the Lexington newspaper reported, citing federal data.
The state's worst default rates are found at private, for-profit "career colleges" and several campuses of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, according to reports.
For-profit schools tend to cost more than taxpayer-supported community colleges.
Story said MCTC and KCTCS officials are in the process of looking into the findings and provided a seven-point outline with a proactive approach to dealing with the situation.
Point one indicates MCTC is working with DOE officials to verify the official default rate for the school and the DOE itself said in the article the statistics were only preliminary numbers and not to be used for official purposes.
Point two acknowledges it is KCTCS colleges in eastern Kentucky that appear to have higher default rates, something Story attributes to the current "economic downturn."
In addition to MCTC, Hazard Community and Technical College (26 percent), Bluegrass Community and Technical College (24 percent), Ashland Community and Technical College (24 percent) and Somerset Community College (23 percent) are listed at the top of the default rating for public less-than-four-year schools.
Story said there is no access to those who have defaulted once they graduate or leave the college. However, point three of the outline notes the college is taking a proactive position with as much financial counseling as is possible being proved by financial aid and academic advisors to students as they enroll.
"We'll be advising them on the front end to get the $2,000 not the $20,000 ... it's not free money," Story said in reference to students who need student loans, but who can qualify for greater amounts through lenders.
"It put us in a difficult spot, but they have to take responsibility to own up to what they took out ... we don't decide (who gets the $5,000), it's the lending institution that makes that decision," he said.
The average net price for all students at MCTC, under the three-year default rate is $5,255, a figure Story confirmed as an average amount.
Story said financial aids will talk to currently enrolled students about the amounts owed for student loans and under point four of the plan, MCTC has sent letters to students who are delinquent on their payments, giving them the dollar amounts borrowed.
"We don't have students who have $100,000 in loans," Story said, adding students can qualify for Pell grants to cover tuition, but they may qualify for more loan money. In 2010, credit hours were $130 each; the current price is $135, Story said, with students taking anywhere from five to 12 credit hours, depending on their course of study and schedule.
Point five of the plan notes each student attempting to borrow educational funds must go through entrance loan counseling, which explains the award and the repayment plan.
Points six and seven note MCTC is "continuing to adopt a holistic approach to financial literacy. Talking about it in the Intro to College classroom, orientation, career services, advising sessions," and "KCTCS is currently working with the Department of Education in the development of a college-wide default prevention plan."
Story said with a make-up of nontraditional students, whose ages range from after high school and up, an initial look at the default rates appears to be at all ages, not one specific age group or student base.
Story will travel to KCTCS offices in Versailles on Thursday to discuss the report.
"Even though it sounds bad, we do a good job ... we'll provide more financial guidance to help them," he said.