ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – An education bombshell greeted tens of thousands of students, Tuesday morning. The students received emails alerting them that ITT Tech campuses nationwide, including two in the St. Louis are were closing immediately.
The primary issue was more financial than academic.
ITT Tech reportedly got close to $620 million from federal student loans last year. U.S. Education Secretary, John King, boosted ITT Tech’s cash surety requirement to 40% of that amount, from $94 million to $247 million.
ITT Tech closed after failing to put up the extra $153 million.
King posted a statement on the U.S. Department of Education website for ITT Tech students.
While King and school officials blame each other, the students were getting burned.
ITT Tech boasted 136 locations in 38 states. All are now closed.
Stacked up newspapers and locked doors greeted anyone who showed up at the Earth City campus, Tuesday.
“It felt like somebody kicked me in the stomach,” said nursing student, Richard DePriest.
He woke up to an email from the school breaking the news.
This Marine Corp vet is one of 18 students who were supposed to start their final quarter Monday, 85 days from taking their tests to become RNs.
“I can almost taste the national test right now. I’m ready to take it, feel good about it. Now the rug got pulled out. I don’t know if I can do that to myself and my family again,” DePriest said.
“It’s 2 years of my life gone, that I’m never going to get back; my young daughter’s life, my young family,” said Jason Granstaff.
His graduation ceremony was set for Wednesday.
He said he only learned of its cancellation when he called the hotel that was hosting it.
An estimated 40,000 students and 8,000 school employees have been left in the lurch.
U.S. Senator, Dick Durbin (D) Illinois, blasted ITT Tech in a statement saying, “Every time I looked up at the ITT sign on the side of White Oaks Mall in Springfield I knew this day would come, and I knew that hundreds of innocent students, families, and ultimately the taxpayer would pay dearly for the exploitation by for-profit colleges that Congress and Washington fail to properly regulate. ITT Tech has no one to blame but itself for its failure. For years, the company exploited students and fleeced American taxpayers. Today, its predatory practices have finally caught up to it. As a result of its actions, ITT Tech has put the futures of tens of thousands of students across the country in jeopardy. I call on the Department of Education to swiftly make these students aware of their eligibility for closed school discharges of their student loan debts and other options…we can’t leave students holding the bag for ITT Tech’s misdeeds.”
U.S. Senator, Claire McCaskill (D) Missouri issued a statement saying, “Many of these for-profit schools have been more worried about getting federal money than providing a good education. With ITT Tech’s closing, we’ve got to ensure its former students aren’t abandoned, and I’m looking forward to working with the department of education to provide clear information on options available to those students that’ll provide them with a job-ready education.”
Students like DePriest and Granstaff were concerned about more than dollars. They wanted their education, their sacrifices, to count for something.
“I think that’s my biggest concern,” Granstaff said. “I don’t know what job is going to look at an ITT Tech diploma anymore and be like, “hey we really want this guy.”
School officials have promised to help students transfer their credits to other schools.
That wasn’t happening, Tuesday, students said.
The U.S. Department of Education has set up an “updates” page on its website for ITT Tech students.