Tampa, FL -- When ITT Technical Institute abruptly closed its doors Tuesday, it left now-former students scrambling to find other schools that will accept the credits they’ve earned, hoping the time and money they've invested can be salvaged.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the news is not good.
“It sucks,” said Joe Fleming, somewhat more bluntly.
Fleming, although miffed, wasn't wasting any time. He’s afraid he's already wasted too much.
Within hours of ITT shutting down he and thousands of students who were also stranded started weighing their options.
"Yeah, I was gonna talk to the dean and find out what’s going on. Get my transcripts and then go to SPC or HCC and see if my classes will transfer,” said Fleming.
At Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, the Student Services department has launched a rapid response team which will check ITT teacher credentials and review past classes.
But ITT, says HCC’s Dean of Student Services Joe Bentrovato, was not regionally accredited. So, unfortunately, the standards aren't the same.
“Maybe one or two courses are salvageable, it’s hard to say,” said Bentrovato, “But when you look at the course work they’ve taken there, and how we’re accredited it just doesn’t line up too well.”
But it's not just a waste of students' money. It's everyone’s money.
A large percentage of those attending ITT are former military. Their tuition, even their housing in some cases, is paid for through the GI Bill and other taxpayer programs.
“Yeah, the taxpayer’s money,” said Bentrovato, “A lot of that went to these benefits and the student who is using these funds they are not getting anything out of it. It's all of us. There's a lot of ripple of fact in a closing like this.”
“It's like these businesses are robbing our money,” said Fleming.
In fact, it was only when the U.S. Department of Education stopped any new ITT enrollment using federal dollars -- citing financial and accreditation concerns -- that ITT abruptly pulled the plug.
“I mean no matter how you look at it, I mean nothing good is coming from this for those students,” said Bentrovato.
ITT Technical Institute is reaching out to students and faculty to update the situation. The U.S. Dept. of Education is also posting information on a https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/itt website specific to ITT.
Before ITT closed, it was also ordered to reach an Articulation Agreement with other schools which would, therefore, be more likely to accept credits already earned.