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Consumer Advocate: ITT Tech Shutdown "Ultimately Protects Students"

While the ITT Tech campus in Lexington and others across the country have been shut down, a consumer advocate says the move ultimately protects students. (Greg Stotelmyer)
While the ITT Tech campus in Lexington and others across the country have been shut down, a consumer advocate says the move ultimately protects students. (Greg Stotelmyer)
September 13, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. – While the closing of ITT Technical Institute campuses in Lexington and Louisville has left students in the lurch, a consumer advocate said the closures are ultimately a good thing. The for-profit technical institute closed all 130 of its for-profit schools last week, leaving 35,000 students in limbo. The move came after the U.S. Department of Education banned ITT from accepting new students with federal education loans.

Whitney Barkley-Denny is the legislative counsel for the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending and an expert on student loan policy, she said ITT's priorities have been questioned for years.

"Well, ITT has a long history," she 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 made complaints that ITT exaggerates both their graduation rates and their ability to place graduates in the job market. ITT has called the government crackdown "unwarranted and unconstitutional."

Barkley-Denny thinks ITT has been less an educational institution and more of a call center that used a cynical method known as a "pain funnel" to sign people up.

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

Barkley-Denny noted that ITT charges $26,000 for a two-year associate's degree. Students who are enrolled now 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 online here.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY