ITT Tech hangs nursing students out to dry
Monday, September 19, 2016
On Sep. 6, ITT Technical Institute announced to its students that it would discontinue operations effective immediately due to new unfulfilled requirements placed on them by the U.S. Department of Education. With this announcement, tens of thousands of students at more than 130 campuses in 39 states found themselves stalled in their educational pursuits.
One industry particularly affected has been nursing. Considering the increasing need for nurses and the stable job market in healthcare, the appeal for nursing school is great.
Although colleges across the country had seen an increase in general enrollment and new nursing programs, the largest increase was seen in private for-profit programs. In 2002, only 2 percent of all programs were private for-profit, however by 2012, that number had grown to 13 percent.
Unfortunately, when institutions such as ITT seem to take advantage of a need in the community, it leaves a bad mark for other schools that have been successful in providing well-trained nurses.
ITT claimed in a follow-up communication update that this all came about "without previous notice." However, according to the original letter from the Department of Education, ITT's problems began in August 2014 when it was cited by the Department of Education for late submission of annual compliance audits and audited financial statement.
The letter outlines the continued issues of accreditation and subsequent requests by the Department of Education to insure that financial risk to the Department, Title IV funds, students and taxpayers would be mitigated. By Aug. 17, 2016, ITT still could not fully demonstrate compliance with accreditation standards, and the Department imposed severe conditions on ITT.
In an effort to protect prospective students and taxpayers, the Department of Education was no longer allowing ITT to enroll new students with federal aid. As a result of this sanction, ITT lost its largest funding source and ultimately was forced to close.
This is not the first for-profit school to be closed due to federal sanctions. In 2015, Corinthian College was fined $30 million by the Department of Education for overstating job placement rates for graduates. Shortly thereafter, Corinthian filled for bankruptcy, which was followed by a federal judge ruling the school was liable for $531 million in student loans.
When the economy took a downward spiral, many sought new opportunities that would hopefully be more recession proof. During that time, there was a surge of for-profit schools trying to meet those needs and desires. Although many reputable schools provided top-quality education, others seemed to prey on lower-income vulnerable students, leaving them strapped with massive amounts of student debt.
Therefore, when seeking a nursing program, it's important to do your research and be bit suspicious when a school has exponentially higher tuition than most of the local schools.
Sadly, these ITT students have been thrust into a challenging situation that will likely place their hopes and dreams on hold for a while. Fortunately, the Department of Education has set up webinars about the choices students have and a page dedicated to their options.
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