YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Students at ITT Technical Institute were left scrambling after the sudden announcement that the company is closing all of its campuses.
The closure, announced Tuesday, follows sanctions imposed against the company after federal scrutiny and charges of fraud.
Students like Kayla Cain, who attends the Austintown campus, found out by email that classes were canceled for good. Now, Cain is wondering what to do next.
“I lost a lot of time with my children this past year and a half, studying three to four hours and going to school — a lot of time I can’t get back,” she said. “But I’m definitely going to push forward and become a nurse.”
In a statement Tuesday the for-profit college chain said it was declaring bankruptcy:
It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service. With what we believe is a complete disregard by the U.S. Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected.
The actions of and sanctions from the U.S. Department of Education have forced us to cease operations of the ITT Technical Institutes, and we will not be offering our September quarter. We reached this decision only after having exhausted the exploration of alternatives, including transfer of the schools to a non-profit or public institution.
Last month, the Department of Education banned the college chain ITT Educational Services from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid. Among the measures, ITT was ordered to pay $152 million to the department within 30 days to cover student refunds and other liabilities in case the company closes. The chain, based in Indiana, is still paying another $44 million demanded by the department in June for the same reason.
The company says it is working to assist displaced students with their records and education options, but students like Lester Stovell said they feel deceived.
“They’re not trying to make it better for us,” he said. “They just left. No one is here to talk to us.”
Since the school closed, students can ask for a loan discharge, meaning all of their federal loans will be forgiven, but they would lose all of their course work and would have to start over.
Students can also try to transfer some credits to other schools. This could lead to an even longer time in school and even more debt for students.
The money they borrowed at ITT will follow them to the new program, even if they can’t transfer the credits.
Trumbull Business College Administrator Kim Straniak said students’ credits would have to be examined on an individual basis, because there is certain criteria that must be met.
“For a student that has started college, they made that decision for some reason, whether it was to better themselves, make a better life for their family, and they have to weigh all those different options,” she said.
Other schools, like ETI in Niles and Eastern Gateway Community College, say they’re working with former ITT students.
“It is devastating to students, and we are doing the best that we can as far as granting transfer credits. We’ve been pretty successful at that so far,” said Diane Marsteller, director of admissions at ETI Technical College in Niles.
Stovell said he chose ITT Technical Institute because he was interested in the Registered Nursing program — something other technical schools in the area don’t offer.
“I need to sit down and think about my path now, but I don’t really know what to do now,” he said.
WKBN has attempted to contact ITT Technical Institute, but so far, has not been able to reach a representative there.
Prior to its closing, the U.S. Department of Education’s blog listed options for ITT Technical School students. The Department of Education said more information on the loan discharge option will be available through the Federal Student Aid’s announcement page.