WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is reaching out to offer help to thousands of ITT Tech students across Ohio following the for-profit school’s decision to close its doors.
ITT has approximately 3,000 Ohio students at nine Ohio campuses: Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Hilliard, Maumee, Norwood, Strongsville, Warrensville Heights and Youngstown.
For the past several years, Brown said ITT’s “questionable decisions and predatory practices” have put its students and millions of taxpayer dollars at risk. As a result, the Department of Education moved last month to ban ITT from taking taxpayer-funded federal student aid dollars. After years of financial mismanagement, ITT announced plans to close its doors this week.
“ITT’s unfair and often fraudulent practices have left hundreds of thousands of students with worthless degrees or credits, limited job prospects, and tens of thousands of dollars in loan debt,” Brown said. “By taking action to hold ITT accountable, the Department of Education sent a clear signal that ripping off students and taxpayers will not be tolerated – no matter how big the school or how many lobbyists it employs. Putting an end to ITT’s unacceptable behavior was the right thing to do.
“At the same time, we have a responsibility to assist ITT’s current students who have done nothing wrong. We know ITT’s actions will cause stress and confusion for many ITT students, and we want Ohioans to know we are here to help.”
Last month, ED moved to end ITT’s misuse of federal student aid by banning the company from enrolling new students who were using federal loans to pay for their education. The company was facing lawsuits from both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for its misleading and deceptive practices, and was being investigated by multiple state attorneys general.
Brown was joined by Ted Mitchell, the Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education who helped outline steps ITT students can pursue.
Students have two immediate options:
- Students currently enrolled at ITT may be eligible to have federal student loans discharged. This is available to current students and students who’ve been enrolled at ITT in the past 120 days.
- Students wishing to complete their program at a different school may be able to transfer credits. This would limit loan discharge options for students.
Since every student’s case will be different, Brown is encouraging students to visit studentaid.gov/ITT to learn more or call 1-888-4-FEDAID to speak to an expert. Brown also noted Ohioans can contact his office online or by phone for assistance navigating the process.
Students will also have the opportunity to take advantage of borrower defense to repayment, which gives students financial relief if they took out loans to attend a school that committed fraud, misrepresented its services, or violated state law related to the educational services they paid for. ED is currently finalizing the rule which will lay out the exact process for how this repayment will work and Brown has urged them to issue a rule that will help students get relief efficiently.
Brown is also the co-sponsor of the Department of Veterans Affairs Education Relief and Restoration Act of 2015, which would restore the G.I. benefits of veterans who lost credit or training time because their educational institution permanently closed.
In a letter to then ED Secretary Arne Duncan, Brown urged the Department to develop a more effective strategy for dealing with the bad actors in the for-profit education industry and minimizing the potential harm to taxpayers. In his letter, Brown noted that ITT, along with several other for-profit education companies, is also experiencing financial struggles and is subject to state and federal investigations.
Brown joined a letter to the VA in June 2015, asking it to investigate ITT Tech and take action to protect veterans attending the school. ITT Tech was the third largest recipient of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits in 2012-13 despite scrutiny by various state and federal agencies for misconduct surrounding marketing and recruiting practices, job placement rates, and other misleading and deceptive practices. Brown also called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to include a “risk index” in the GI Bill Comparison Tool, an online application that would highlight bad actors in the for-profit industry and give veterans the resources needed to make informed decisions about their education.