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Former ITT Tech Students Say They Won't Pay

It may be back to college for some students, who thought their ITT Tech degrees would help them get jobs. The for-profit schools abruptly closed last week. (U.S. Department of Education)
It may be back to college for some students, who thought their ITT Tech degrees would help them get jobs. The for-profit schools abruptly closed last week. (U.S. Department of Education)
September 14, 2016

ST. LOUIS - Dozens of former students and graduates of ITT Tech - which has campuses in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield - today are declaring a "debt strike." The civil action means they will no longer be making federal loan payments for the debt they incurred while students at the for-profit institution.

The U.S. Department of Education announced it would deny federal financial-aid payments to ITT Tech last week after receiving complaints about the school.

ITT graduate Sandra Watson, one of the debt strikers, has $99,000 in debt.

"There are so many people who fell victim to ITT's way of doing things, and so many of us have a huge debt over our head and it's effecting our lives in various ways," she said. "We're just really, really wanting the Department of Education to hear us and understand how much pain this has caused us."

Federal law requires that the Department of Education discharge the loans of any students who have been defrauded by their school - but as yet there has been no announcement of such a plan for ITT students. In a statement, ITT Tech said the feds neglected to follow due process of law before taking action.

"ITT strikers would like to see the for-profit education sector closed down," said Laura Hanna, co-director of the Debt Collective, a national organization working to phase out for-profit colleges and universities. "They would like to see relief for student debtors who have been preyed upon and harmed by subprime education schemes. They would like to have access to real, quality higher education."

Watson graduated with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2010 and since then hasn't been able to find a job with her degree. She said she knows she's one of many.

"I've had second interviews and callbacks, but it's not until they realize where I went to school when I either no longer hear from them, or they decide to just straight tell me that they don't accept that school's credits or degrees," she said. "They do not look at it as a legitimate college."

According to the Debt Collective, at least 1.500 ITT Tech students have applied to the Department of Education asking for their loans to be discharged. Up to this point, the requests have gone unanswered.

More information is online at ittstrike.com.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO