In the aftermath of ITT Technical Institute’s sudden closure last Tuesday, more than 35,000 displaced students are left scrambling to find options and recourse. In uncertain times, it’s easy to make hurried or rash decisions—especially if the end result appears to be favorable. Your BBB® wants to warn against some potential ways fraudsters could take advantage of those in the wake of this recent news as well as provide various, trusted resources. But first, let’s take a look at what led to the abrupt ITT closure.
While years of unsound financial and administrative decisions led to the tipping point for ITT, it was a series of recent actions taken by its accreditor—the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)—and the U.S. Department of Education that ultimately led to the college’s decision to close its doors for good.
According to the U.S. Secretary of Education, ITT was found to be both noncompliant and unlikely to become compliant with the ACICS Accreditation Criteria in August of this year. Shortly following that determination, the Department of Education “increased its financial oversight over ITT,” no longer allowing the college to enroll new students with federal aid. And because ITT is a for-profit college, a significant portion of its revenue comes from federal loans and grants students receive for tuition. So, the college choose to close; thus, leaving tens of thousands of students wondering what to do about their debt, their education and their future.
While this action hardly seems fair to those students working hard to earn a degree in a very competitive marketplace, the reality is they are left to pick up the pieces. But your BBB is here to assist in the difficult decisions facing many by helping safeguard against scammers and frauds that could further add to the stress during this time.
So, let’s talk about the potential dangers of this situation. It’s not every day an established, nationwide college closes its doors; this leaves many students and parents unknowing and vulnerable. The BBB would like to lay out some tips to help prevent you or someone you know from being taken advantage of:
- Know Your Options: While the available options may come with some stipulations and criteria, displaced ITT Tech students have two points of recourse to take following the college’s closure:
- Discharge Federal Loans
- Transfer Course Credits
For more information about these options, visit this official website, which has been established by the Department of Education specifically for ITT students. There, students can get in-depth information and sign up for webinars. Students can also call the dedicated phone number at 800-4FEDAID.
- Educate and Safeguard Yourself: Only official entities such as the Department of Education, ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT Technical Institutes), or current lenders should contact students regarding action or options. If an unknown company or individual contacts you to offer you a deal that seems too good to be true, do some research to make sure they are reputable before you make any decisions.
- Do Not Pay for Anything: This is extremely important to remember. Whether it’s completing the paperwork for a loan discharge, transferring course credits, receiving student records, or gathering information about your options, do not pay for any of these items. All of this information is free-of-charge to ITT students. If a “company” or individual asks you for money or credit card information, take down as much of their information as you can, and report it to your BBB.
Here are some informational links from trusted sources:
- Federal Student Aid Official Site
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Department of Education Official Blog – A Message from the Secretary of Education to ITT Students
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.