Schools Step In to Help Stranded ITT Tech Students

Though many students should be able to finish their degree or certificate programs elsewhere, a solution won't be easy for some.

by Mary Mogan Edwards, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio / September 8, 2016

(TNS) -- As stranded students of ITT Technical Institute reel from the news that the schools have closed nationwide, other schools are lining up to take them in. Many should be able to finish their degree or certificate programs elsewhere, but for some, a solution won't be easy.

Those studying in commonly offered fields such as medical technologies should be able to find similar programs at other schools and use their federal loans there to finish up. But some programs, such as ITT’s electrical-technology degree, aren’t offered elsewhere in central Ohio. And others, such as nursing, have plenty of programs but long waiting lists.

Students currently enrolled at ITT or those who have been enrolled within roughly the past 120 days, and who don’t plan to transfer, are eligible to have their student loans forgiven.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Assistant Education Secretary Ted Mitchell urged ITT students on Wednesday to visit Brown’s website, www.brown.senate.gov, and the education department’s page, www.studentaid.gov/ITT, to learn about their options.

At least one program at ITT completed classes on Aug. 31 and had scheduled a graduation ceremony for Sept. 29, but those students can’t get word from the school on whether that will happen or even where their caps and gowns are.

One such student from Reynoldsburg is confident she has the skills that she needs to work in her chosen field of information technology.

“That’s because of the hard work I put in, not because (ITT) provided resources and books and teachers,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be named. “Some classes were trash,” she said, with computers that didn’t work and books that weren’t available until the last week of class.

Still, after $43,000-plus in student loans, she’d like the sheepskin and the ceremony. As of Wednesday, she said, ITT’s student website wasn’t working and school officials weren’t answering her e-mails.

Meanwhile, Columbus State Community College and Franklin University announced Wednesday several outreach efforts for people whose studies aren’t complete.

Columbus State is offering $500 scholarships for students who transfer from ITT or from the American School of Technology, a local for-profit career school that also is closing.

“Not only does the college offer many of the same programs as ITT Tech and AST, it also provides more than 50 years of stability and the lowest tuition in the region,” Columbus State officials said.

Columbus State tells prospective nursing students to expect about $12,000 total in tuition, fees, books supplies and parking. The federal College Navigator website, which lists data submitted by colleges and universities, estimates two-year tuition costs for Fortis and ITT, two for-profit schools that offered nursing degrees, at more than $30,000.

Franklin University is especially geared to accept transfer students, spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio said, because most Franklin students have started their educations elsewhere. Franklin’s website has a “My Transfer Credit” tool that allows people to plug in the specific classes they’ve taken at specific schools to see how many credits will transfer.

“We have a very generous transfer policy,” Mercurio said. “A lot of students come to us because of that. We understand the situation they’re in.”

Franklin plans “transfer fairs” next week for students who might want to transfer to its Columbus campus or the one in Beavercreek, near Dayton. The Columbus session is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Ross Auditorium of Alumni Hall, 201 S. Grant Ave. The one in Beavercreek is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. next Thursday at 3800 Pentagon Blvd., Suite 130.

Federal and state officials would like to see more such efforts, said John Ware, executive director of the Ohio Board of Career Schools and Colleges. He said other for-profit colleges in Ohio seem eager to pick up former ITT students.

“The response has been very positive,” Ware said. “Schools are reaching out to help.”

©2016 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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