Collapse of for-profit giant ITT Tech leaves high school students in the lurch, too.
Posted September 20
Just as classes were about to start earlier this month, the widely advertised ITT Tech, a for-profit technical college, left 35,000 college students at 127 campuses scrambling for new plans after it announced it was closing down under pressure from the Department of Education.
The sudden announcement came after the Department of Education forbade the company from enrolling students using federal financial aid because it had "significant concerns" about the company's financial stability.
The demise of ITT Tech came after years of outside pressure stemming from the company's enrollment and tuition practices, the Los Angeles Times reports. In 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued the company, alleging predatory lending that involved pressuring students to accept high-cost, high-risk private loans, and in 2015 the SEC filed fraud charges against ITT for allegedly hiding financial difficulties from investors.
Most attention focused on the 35,000 college students were left in limbo. Last week, the U.S. Secretary of Education published an open letter to ITT students explaining the regulatory action, outlining their loan forgiveness and transfer options, and urging them not to give up on their education.
"In recent years, ITT has increasingly been the subject of numerous state and federal investigations," Secretary John B. King wrote. "In August, ITT’s accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools determined that ITT 'is not in compliance, and is unlikely to become in compliance with (ACICS) accreditation criteria.' This came amid increasingly heightened financial oversight measures put in place by the Department over the past two years due to significant concerns about ITT’s administrative capacity, organizational integrity, financial viability, and ability to serve students."
But college students weren't the only ones affected. Parents of students at two high school charter schools, called Early Career Academy, with one in Michigan and the other in Arizona, were also shocked to learn that their public charter schools were caught up in the maelstrom.
“We’re at a complete loss. What is our kid supposed to do?” the parent of one ECA student told The 74. “I think we’re going to ride this week out to see what happens by the end of this week. In the meantime, we’re looking into trying to find out what credits he has and where he sits at this point as far as graduating from high school.”
As of Monday, the ITT Early Career Academy website was still online, urging students to "Earn a Diploma & an Associate Degree at No Tuition Cost."