ITT Closure Prompts Questions, Concern Among students And Future of For Profit Schools

Times are tough for everyone, but it looks like for profit schools may soon begin to crumble, too. At least, if the fate of ITT technical institute befalls many other similar schools in that industry.

Indeed, ITT abruptly closed this week, leaving 35,000 students—without degrees; and who took on debt to pursue—without options.  Or, rather, without a simple solution to their current conundrum.

As such, the Department of Education has also set up, this week, a website (studentaid.gov/ITT) to assist students of this former school to find what few options may be available.  In addition, the DoE plans to launch a series of webinars to help make students aware of their rights (as consumers).

There are a few options immediately available to students of the failed school.  For one, students could transfer credits.  Fortunately, when the Department of Education lessened access to federal loans and grants—during the recent higher education overhaul—they required that the institution develop agreements with other schools to ensure that all students would be able to complete their education if, in fact, they should face a shut down.

As with most contingency plans, nobody ever expects to ever have to use them; but ITT has found themselves in this very predicament.  As such, ITT has formed some agreements with various trade schools and career-based colleges to make situations like this easier to manage.
Schools with transfer options can be found at www.itt-tech.edu/articulation

Some of the schools on this list are, in fact, for-profit colleges that are also currently in battle with government sanctions.  Century Foundation senior fellow (and former undersecretary of education), Robert Shireman comments, “The colleges most likely to grant credit are, unfortunately, the ones most likely to have low standards and therefore not be a good option for the students.”

And transferring credits to another school to complete a degree does not always make the most financial sense.  Institute for College Access and Success vice president Debbie Cochrane also advises, “The most important thing is for students to consider their options very carefully. There’s a variety of legal service providers who can help students weigh the pros and cons of various options. And the Department of Education has its website and is working to make sure loan servicers have the best information for students.”

Finally, Americans for Financial Reform senior policy analyst Alexis Goldstein counsels that the best solution—for those students who are eligible—is to take advantage of the closed-school discharge initiative.  She notes, “ITT’s programs were over-priced for what students got in return, and many schools will not take the credits they earned at ITT anyway.”

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