Nearly 40,000 now-former ITT Technical Institute students are now left picking up the pieces after the for-profit college operator abruptly closed all 130 of its campuses this week. The Department of Education wants to help those students to be aware of all options — and to avoid getting pulled in by shady offers that are too good to be true.
To do that, the Dept. began hosting a series of informational webinars on Wednesday to share information and address students’ questions and concerns.
The Dept. broke down options into several categories, including addressing potential federal loan refunds and continuing education options for current students, those who withdrew within the last 120 days, and those who completed their education at ITT in the past.
The options, while varying, seek to provide a bit of relief for students affected by the for-profit operator’s closure.
Am I Eligible For A Refund?Image courtesy of fblumongoose
This option is seen as a “fresh start.” Students who receive a closed school discharge have no further obligation to repay their Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans (which include Stafford and PLUS loans), or Perkins Loans.
However, there are a few caveats to this option.
• Timing Is Everything: Only students who attended the schools up until they closed or withdrew in the 120 days prior to the closure.
• Loans Only: Not all federal funding is covered by the discharge. Any Pell grant received for programs at ITT will continue to count against your maximum eligibility.
• Federal Loans Only: The option does not apply to private student loans. These loans are privately administered by a lender.
But all is not lost for these borrowers, the Dept. of Education suggests borrowers can contact the loan provider directly to find out if there are cancellation provisions within the context of that loan.
• No Transfers: If a student applies and receives a closed school discharge they can not transfer their ITT credits to another school. A student who receives a discharge and then transfers credits, may be required to repay the discharged loan.
To apply for loan forgiveness through a closed school discharge, you can either:
• Complete and return the Closed School Loan Discharge Application sent to you by your servicer or complete this Closed School Loan Discharge Application and return it to your loan servicer, or
• Contact your loan servicer about the application process for getting your loan discharged.
Students impacted by these closures may also be eligible for State Tuition Recovery Fund refunds. To learn more, contact your state postsecondary education agency and see the Dept. of Education’s frequently asked questions page.
What Happens To My VA Benefits?Image courtesy of Hammerin Man
If students have not received this email, they should contact the VA directly, the Dept. of Education says.
The Veterans Student Loan Relief Fund provides an array of potential options for these students.
For example, if students act quickly to transfer to a new school, you can preserve your remaining months of GI Bill eligibility and avoid the possibility of any break in housing allowance.
Can I Continue My Course?Image courtesy of bluwmongoose
However, current students who transfer will not be eligible for a closed school discharge. Instead, transfers will continue to be obligated to repay their ITT loan debts
In an attempt to make it easier for students to continue seeking degrees, ITT Tech will soon provide a list of schools that will “teach-out” programs for currently enrolled students. It’s still unclear which schools will provide teach-outs.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau describes teach-out as an arrangement in which students may be able to complete their program and receive their degree at a comparable institution — this could be another for-profit school or a community college.
How Can I Get My ITT Transcript?Image courtesy of Great Beyond
Department of Education under secretary Ted Mitchell said on Tuesday that he had already begun encouraging many community college leaders to reach out to former ITT students “to explore which of their schools’ programs are closely aligned to those offered by ITT, and — where it makes sense — to accept former ITT students as transfers.”
“A lot goes into deciding where to go to college,” Mitchell said. “For students who choose to restart or continue their education at another college, we encourage them to carefully consider factors like program quality and cost.”
All students, including those who choose a teach-out or transfer option, will receive their transcripts from ITT. Although, it’s not clear when this will happen.
The Dept. of Education is in talks with ITT to create a smooth transition process. Acquiring transcripts, however, will vary from state to state.
Most state regulatory agencies have their own record retention policies; some of these states already have transcripts on hand, while others are working to get them.
Students who choose to continue their education at a difference school, but do not transfer credits, may still be eligible for discharge and should apply, the Dept. of Education says.
I Graduated, What Now?Image courtesy of pshorten
Consumers who have previously completed their studies with ITT Tech, but feel they were cheated by the school for some reason, may eventually have the option to apply for loan forgiveness, Higher Ed Not Debt points out.
If one of the numerous open state and federal investigations finds evidence of fraud or other illegal behavior surrounding your specific program, you might be eligible for relief. Under federal law, students have the right to seek a borrower defense discharge if their school is found to have violated the law.