Early this morning, thousands of ITT Technical Institute students across the country received notice that their schools would be closing, effective today. The news comes after several state and federal investigations about ITT’s compliance with accreditation, predatory lending, and fraud.
Over the last two years, ITT Educational Services, Inc. has been under additional scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education for failing to demonstrate that the institution had the “administrative capacity, organizational integrity, financial viability, and ability to serve students.” With increased oversight and additional requirements to provide funds in the case of a potential closure, ITT decided to shut down all its campuses rather than comply with the government’s requirements.
The ITT school closings will impact more than 40,000 students currently enrolled across their 145 campuses nationwide. The for-profit school will roughly affect 8,000 Latino students and 17,000 Black students who, together, make up an estimated 46% of their total enrolled students. Similar predatory for-profit institutions in the past have disproportionately affected students of color.
It is uncertain how the immediate school closures will impact the thousands of students enrolled across the country. ITT did not create teach-out plans, which are agreements with other institutions to allow students to complete their degree despite ITT closing. Instead, students are left to enroll into community colleges on their own, though the transferability of ITT credits are unlikely given ITT’s accreditation concerns.
Federal law also allows for students who have been defrauded or experienced sudden school closure to petition to have their student loans forgiven. Both options provide students a chance to start over, although there is no recourse for the amount of time and effort ITT students have dedicated to their education. Secretary of Education John King released a statement today indicating what the closures mean for current ITT students. Taxpayers are expected to carry the burden of the $485 million amassed in student loans by ITT students.
NCLR will continue to provide updates as the Department of Education issues notices for students who have been affected by the sudden closures.
It is unconscionable that some schools continue to receive taxpayer dollars while defrauding students who pursue an education to better themselves and their families. We hope advocacy will lead to stronger policies that protect students and taxpayers so that education is not a debt sentence, but rather an opportunity to pursue the American Dream.