On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the well-known for-profit university ITT Technical Institute closed its doors nationwide. The closure displaced 8,000 employees. Over 10,000 students nationwide suddenly found themselves without a job, without a complete education, or with wasted student debt. In South Carolina, four ITT Technical Institute campuses closed, including a campus in North Charleston.
The road to closure began in April 2016, when the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) deemed ITT Education Services Inc. did not meet their criteria for accreditation. The United States Department of Education responded, placing several bans on ITT Educational Services Inc. and beginning an in-depth investigation of the company’s practices on Aug. 25, 2016. The school was subject to enrollment restrictions, disclosures to students, compensation and payment limitations, notification of financial event requirements and Title IV payment method requirements. They also required that the company increase its relief fund amount by $43,938,303 to protect students and employers should the school close.
The ITT Technical Institute responded to the government with a list of possible countermeasures, but was turned down. The company leaders converged to discuss their options and officially decided to close their doors, both online and campus based, and cancel the semester on Monday, Sept. 12.
Many students are concerned with their financial aid. Those who enrolled in the school at the time of its closure or within six months of the closure have the option to discharge their loans; essentially a full reimbursement of any fees already paid and forgiveness of their current owed amount.
However, loan forgiveness only applies to those who do not finish their degree program. Others that wish to continue pursuing a degree must appeal to the surrounding colleges for transfer without any sort of loan relief. These transfers are difficult, as the ITT Technical Institute’s classes are not accredited by the ACICS. Therefore, each college must individually examine every ITT Technical Institute class to determine its worth.
Meanwhile, many local students can only wait, putting their dreams on hold and leaving them with an uncertain future.