State and federal officials who oversee student loans and grants will no longer award the financial aid money to those attending ITT Tech, which has more than 700 students in Washington.
More than 700 Washington students enrolled at ITT Tech’s three campuses in Seattle, Everett and Spokane are losing state financial aid to pay for courses at the troubled college chain.
The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that the for-profit college can no longer enroll new students with federal financial aid, followed the next day by the Washington Student Achievement Council’s decision not to renew ITT’s eligibility to receive state financial aid.
Last academic year, about 480 students enrolled in Washington’s ITT campuses received State Need Grant money to pay for their classes. The State Need Grant program is Washington’s primary financial-aid program for low-income students; grants do not need to be paid back.
The moves are reminiscent of what happened to Corinthian Colleges, a California company that once operated six for-profit Everest College campuses in Washington. The colleges were eventually sold to Zenith Education Group, and four of the Washington campuses closed, although Zenith’s business practices have also been under scrutiny.
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Before it was sold, a number of Washington students complained that Everest misrepresented the wages they could make after graduating, and did a poor job of teaching and preparing them for national certification exams. Similar accusations have dogged ITT Tech, as well.
One state legislator thinks the state needs to do a better job of helping students extricate themselves from ITT Tech and transfer their credits to another college.
“If you’ve spent $20,000 out of your pocket to get a degree you may never get, the state of Washington should be protecting you,” said state Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle. Pollet said the state should be working to help ITT students recoup their money, then find a place to transfer and finish a degree.
Last year, Pollet — vice-chair of the House Higher Education Committee — sponsored legislation that would have created a state ombudsman to assist students going to for-profit colleges. The bill passed in the House but died in the Senate.
Pollet said ITT has been under investigation by federal officials for months and “we should have had something in place, with the hundreds of students who, right now, are wondering if they wasted tens of thousands of dollars and years of their lives.”
The state student-achievement council says that students who have questions about their aid can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-535-0747 and select option 4.
ITT Tech has campuses in Seattle, Everett and Spokane Valley. According to the Washington Workforce Training Board, the college has an enrollment of 754 students, including 214 who are receiving federal veterans’ education benefits to pay for their schooling.
Nationwide, ITT has 45,000 enrolled students on 130 campuses. Those students received an estimated $580 million in federal money last year, according to the Department of Education.
Everest Colleges, which in 2014 had a combined enrollment of about 3,000 students at six Washington campuses, closed its programs in Bremerton, Renton, Seattle and Vancouver after all the students there completed their programs. It has two remaining campuses, in Tacoma and Everett, which have a combined enrollment of 469 students, according to the state Workforce Training Board.