ITT Tech, a for-profit technical institute, abruptly announced the closure of 150 campuses in 38 states nationwide on Tuesday, just before the start of a new school year. The permanent shutter is the result of the college blaming thea recent decision by the U.S. Education Department to ban it from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid.
But in an effort to help the students find out their future options, the Department of Education has a team of employees ready to answer telephone questions at 800-4FEDAID and a website for ITT students. The Department of Education is also planning a series of webinars.
The shutdown will leave 8,000 employees out of work and 35,000 students wondering if their education experience is of-use anymore.
The demise of the for-profit institution has been unraveling for the past several years. According to NPR, about a dozen state attorneys general examined rumors that ITT lied to students about job prospects and that ITT could have accepted students who were qualified for their school's educational mission.
Last month, the Education Department took a stand against the school's financial sanctions. The department cut off ITT from the federal financial aid program, automatically deeming new students unfit for federal student loans or Pell grants—which is crucial for the operation of for-profit institutions.
After trying and failing to sell some of its campuses, it was left with no choice but to comply with the closure.
"The actions of and sanctions from the U.S. Department of Education have forced us to cease operations of the ITT Technical Institutes, and we will not be offering our September quarter," ITT wrote in a statement on Tuesday. "We reached this decision only after having exhausted the exploration of alternatives, including transfer of the schools to a non-profit or public institution."
The validity of student diplomas and education may be in question, but not all is lost regarding the thousands of dollars students requested from the government to pay their way through college.
Students who graduated from the school within the past six months would be eligible to have their loans forgiven if they want to start over at another school.
The Education Department is also reaching out to students and nearby community colleges, which are being encouraged to allow students to transfer their credits.
Calling the closure an unwarranted federal action, ITT is blaming the Department of Education.
"We believe the government's action was inappropriate and unconstitutional, however, with the ITT Technical Institutes ceasing operations, it will now likely rest on other parties to understand these reprehensible actions and to take action to attempt to prevent this from happening again," ITT said.However the horror of finding out years of education and money are possibly wasted, some students are finding a bit of humor in the announcement.
The Department of Education, though, doesn't want students to give up on their studies.
"We think that it is important for students to continue what they started,” Ted Mitchell, the undersecretary of education, told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s nothing more important than a college degree in today’s economy.”