ITT Tech Students Figure Out Next Steps After School Closure
The ITT Technical Institute was a for-profit vocational school with 130 campuses around the country. All campuses closed earlier this month, including four in Arizona, and since then the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education has been trying to help about 1,200 students in the state who are left without a school.
The first informational meeting for students was held at another for-profit school in Phoenix because the ITT campuses are completely empty. It was packed, with more than 150 students in the main room, and about 100 more in an overflow room and online, watching live from a webcam. And they’ve all been having a really stressful September.
“I was coming to my last quarter to get my associate’s degree, and then it got shut down,” said Virgil Wylie, who would have finished his degree this November.
A lot of students have similar stories of being just months away from a degree. Now students are worried about how to access grades and transcripts from a school that effectively no longer exists. The toll-free telephone number just gives callers a perpetual busy signal.
“It is our understanding that the creditor seized all of their assets,” said Teri Stanfill, executive director of the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.
ITT Tech had kept on a skeleton staff to help students and faculty with the transition, but those staff were let go Wednesday. Stanfill is confident that they’ll still get hold of the student records.
Students were repeatedly told during the meeting to get all the information they can off the ITT website. The room became restless when one student said he’s tried and hasn’t been able to. There are also questions about who is eligible for loan forgiveness, and why veterans won’t get recoupment for G.I. Bill benefits.
Out in the hall after the meeting, students were trying to look ahead. Some college representatives stand at tables with brochures and small giveaways, including representatives from other private schools.
Paul Mittman with the Private Postsecondary Board said closures don’t happen often.
“It’s a very small percentage,” he said, adding that the board still licenses 238 other private schools in the state. “And so hopefully students don’t paint everyone with the same broad brush, whether it’s private not-for-profit or private for-profit.”
Students can choose to transfer to another college, but the amount of credits that would come with them varies. Christa Bateman knows this, because she tried to transfer credits to ITT.
“And ITT Tech said they would take my credits from Everest, which closed a couple years ago,” she said.
Bateman had gone to Everest for nine months when they shut down.
“And they never took them, so I was a couple semesters away from graduating this one and then they come out with the news that they’re closing.”
So Bateman figures this time, it makes more sense to just have her student loans forgiven and start over, because if she tries to transfer credits and only a few go through, the money will be gone.
“Now I have to go back through, take another two-year degree, so that way I can go do the actual certificate program that I want to do again,” Bateman said.
She wants to be a paralegal, but needs an associate’s degree first, a process that in theory should take her two years, but at this point is looking like four. She said she’ll probably go to a community college and try to finish as quickly as possible.
One thing is clear — the next school she picks, she’s doing her homework to make sure it isn’t running the risk of closing down anytime soon.