Association, Nonprofit Join Forces to Help Displaced ITT Students
This month's shutdown of ITT Technical Institute, a nationwide for-profit technical school, affected tens of thousands of students. Fortunately, those students are getting help from the U.S. Education Department and a couple of outside groups.
Controversy and scandal aside, ITT Technical Institute was a household name before its 130 campuses were shut down earlier this month. That makes its closure stunning.
ITT Educational Services, as the company was formally called, was closed after the U.S. Department of Education took actions to boost oversight and limit the enrollment of new students. It had roughly 35,000 students at that time, and many of those students are now in limbo, with lingering debt and a need for new education options to replace those lost. (Currently, the firm is the midst of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in an attempt to liquidate its assets.)
Fortunately, students are getting some help from the nonprofit space. Earlier this week, the Education Department announced Next Steps EDU, a collaboration of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and the nonprofit group Beyond 12, which helps low-income students earn college degrees.
The groups will provides students with on-call advisors who can answer questions about financial aid, academic planning, transfer credits, and more.
“We’re grateful to Beyond 12 and the NASFAA team for their leadership, their creativity and their commitment to aiding affected students,” Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said in comments reported by the Washington Post this week. “We’ve been working around the clock to make sure ITT students remain inspired to pursue the promise of a higher education. ”
In a news release, NASFAA emphasized that its members must play a role in protecting students at a particularly vulnerable time. The group’s president, Justin Draeger, noted that its members were offering to help students on a volunteer basis.
“Sudden campus closures are detrimental to the lives and educational pursuits of students,” Draeger said in the news release. “We are thankful for financial aid administrators who are volunteering their time to help displaced students navigate their future pathways.”
The collaboration came about days after 23 U.S. senators, largely from the Democratic side of the aisle, sent a letter to the Education Department [PDF], praising the agency’s efforts to help affected students, but also calling on the department to use its “existing legal authority to increase the total debt relief and support available to former ITT Tech students.”
An ITT Technical Institute building in Canton, Michigan. (Wikimedia Commons)