TAMPA, Florida — Shocking news from one of the nation’s largest technical colleges -- ITT Technical Institute announcing Tuesday the permanent closure of all of its campuses nationwide including right here in Tampa Bay.
The move impacts an estimated 40,000 students and is sending shock waves through the military community with many students here in Tampa attending classes on Post 9/11 G.I. Bills who now are in fear of losing their funding.
Students arrived all day to find locked doors and few answers after receiving an early morning email their school would be closing.
“I guess it’s the real deal. So I just came to get some answers and information,” said ITT Tampa student Hector Hurtado.
At the Tampa campus the news is especially troubling for recently retired members of the military.
“There’s at least 600 students here and well over 50 percent if not more are veterans,” said recently retired Army veteran Robert Jones.
He and many others are attending classes on the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and now worry they’ll be at risk of losing financial aid.
“Not only does it pay for school but it helps pay for your home,” said Jones. “When there’s no school … there’s no payment for home.”
“My head is spinning,” said Robert Muenzel who spent the past year at the ITT Tampa campus and recently bought a new home. “I’m thinking about my family and trying to see what school will accept the credits for a transfer.”
The closure comes following allegations of fraud and deceptive marketing and the possibility ITT would lose its accreditation. In response, the Department of Education banned the college from accepting new students receiving federal financial aid.
ITT executives call the government’s actions a “complete disregard … for due process …” negatively affecting “hundreds of thousands of current students, alumni.”
Nearly 8,000 employees will also lose their jobs. The Department of Education is reaching out to students to explain their options. Most will be eligible for a refund of their financial aid but only if they forfeit their credits which would mean starting classes over from the very beginning.