ITT Students Left Adrift: Now What?

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By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

September 27, 2016; Baltimore Business Journal

After years of investigations for being out of compliance, ITT Tech closed its 130 campuses earlier this month, leaving 35,000 students without a degree and 8,000 employees without a job. Since the private education company received most of its revenue from federal dollars, when the Department of Education withdrew its federal funding for new students, ITT Tech was forced to file for bankruptcy on September 16th.

Many of these former ITT Tech students are now left in the lurch, trying to pick up the pieces of their academic investments—as well as their and their families’ futures.

Students who attended ITT Tech’s former Owings Mills and Hanover campuses in Maryland are prime examples. These students, who now carry debilitating student loan debt, need help. The nonprofit organization Civil Justice is attempting to assist them. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, this Baltimore nonprofit provides low- to moderate-income clients legal services and free clinics. The purpose of the clinics is to help former Owings Mills and Hanover campus students understand their options and to assist them with applications that can discharge the federal student loans they took out to attend ITT Tech.

Local colleges have been trying to offer solutions. The Las Vegas Sun discussed the challenges. There are various barriers to accepting academic credits from for-profit colleges due to their lack of accreditation. A lot of students may have no choice other than to transfer to another for-profit institution or hope that the federal government discharges their student loans. The question looms: What if they are stuck in the same situation again?

Veterans face unique challenges. While enrolled at an educational institution, veterans receive certain benefits (including housing) as part of their GI Bill. The barriers regarding enrolling in another full-time institution that may not accept credits or late applications will negatively impact receipt of these benefits. This is why certain “damage control” government moves, like passing legislation to ensure receipt of such necessary housing allowances are so important. Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee recently introduced such a bill.

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the Obama administration’s winning of various battles regarding for-profit institutions is a “win for American students and taxpayers.”—Noreen Ohlrich