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Nationwide ITT Tech Shutdown Closes Idaho Location

Students enrolled at ITT Tech or who left without a degree in the past four months may be eligible to have their federal loans forgiven. (B Coley/flickr)
Students enrolled at ITT Tech or who left without a degree in the past four months may be eligible to have their federal loans forgiven. (B Coley/flickr)
September 8, 2016

BOISE, Idaho — Consumer advocates are speaking out after ITT Technical Institute closed all 130 of its for-profit schools on Tuesday, including one location in Boise. The move left 35,000 students nationwide in limbo.

The school blamed the closure on a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education prohibiting ITT from accepting federal education loans from new students.

Whitney Barkley-Denny, legislative counsel for the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending, said the closure is ultimately a good thing because the college's practices have been questioned for years.

"Well, ITT has a long history,” Barkley-Denny said. "It first really started coming to light in 2012 with the Harkin Report, which showed that ITT was spending enormous amounts of money on CEO salaries and advertising, and not so much money on students and their education."

Over the years, many students have complained that ITT exaggerated both its graduation rates and its job-placement numbers. ITT called the government crackdown "unwarranted and unconstitutional."

Barkley-Denny said she thinks ITT was less an educational institution than a call center that used a cynical method known as a "pain funnel" to sign people up.

“What they would actually do would be train to 'find the student's pain,” she explained; “whether that was, you know, being a single mom, not having enough money for groceries, something like that - and then, use that to recruit the student into the school."

According to Barkley-Denny, ITT Technical charged $26,000 for a two-year associate's degree.

Students who were enrolled at the time of the closure or left without a degree in the past four months may be eligible to have their federal loans forgiven, and should contact the U.S. Education Department at 800-4-FED-AID or visit studentaid.ed.gov.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID