One of the largest for-profit colleges in the country is closing immediately, but it’s not clear how many Iowa students may be affected.
ITT Technical Institute offered courses on-line and has operated attendance centers in the Des Moines suburb of Clive and Cedar Rapids, but the Cedar Rapids campus was closed and the Clive campus already had been targeted for closure. ITT lost its accreditation and is under investigation for fraud. The U.S. Department of Education in August announced the school could not enroll students who were depending on federal financial aid. Federal grants and loans were ITT’s main source of revenue.
Attorneys general from 20 states — including Iowa — have been investigating complaints against the school. More than 40,000 students had enrolled in ITT courses for the quarter that started this month. It’s unclear how those students can transfer credits to other schools or even if that’s possible. A spokesperson for Iowa Community College Trustees is not available for comment. A spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Education referred questions to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.
ITT offered courses in business, information technology, nursing and health sciences. Former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin issued a scathing report on for-profit colleges like ITT four years ago.
“In this report you will find overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation,” Harkin said. “And these practices are not the exception. They are the norm.”
Harkin was chairman of the Senate Education Committee when the panel conducted a two-year review of for-profit colleges. The report found a majority of students left the schools without a degree.