ITT Tech's Road to Closure

The for-profit college will shutter more than 130 locations in 39 U.S. states following financial sanctions from the Department of Education.

NEWS BRIEF The company behind ITT Technical Institute, the chain of for-profit schools in the United States, will shut down all of its campuses following financial sanctions from the U.S. Department of Education.

ITT Educational Services said in a statement Tuesday it would shutter more than 130 locations in 39 states. The move affects hundreds of thousands of current students and more than 8,000 employees of the ITT Technical Institute, known colloquially as ITT Tech, the company said.

“It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service,” it said in a statement on its website.

ITT blamed the closure on the “actions of and sanctions from” the U.S. Department of Education. Last Thursday the government agency barred the company from enrolling new students using federal financial aid, a source of funding ITT Tech has relied on heavily. A day later, ITT announced it would not enroll any new students in the coming semester.

U.S. officials say ITT Tech has been found twice this year to be out of compliance with the standards of its accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. ITT Tech and for-profit colleges have been criticized for charging tens of thousands in tuition but failing to provide a valuable education to students, instead leaving them saddled with debt. As my colleague Bourree Lam reported in June, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research this year found “on average, students pursuing bachelor’s and associate’s degrees at for-profit colleges saw their earnings drop, compared to before they started the program.”

“We made a difficult choice to pursue additional oversight in order to protect you, other students, and taxpayers from potentially worse educational and financial damage in the future if ITT was allowed to continue operating without increased oversight and assurances to better serve students,” said John King, the U.S. Secretary of Education, in a statement Tuesday.

ITT Tech enrolls more than 40,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. The Department of Education said Tuesday some students may be eligible to have their federal student loans discharged and their debt erased. They may also be able to transfer their ITT credits to another institution. “Whatever you choose to do, do not give up on your education,” King said.

In April 2015, Corinthian Colleges, another for-profit chain with hundreds of campuses across the country, shut down after similar sanctions from the federal government. The Department of Education offered to forgive millions of dollars of debt of thousands of students enrolled in the schools, on the grounds that Corinthian defrauded them.