Local ITT Tech Students Searching for Answers

ITT Tech Open House

Since the closure of all ITT Tech Campuses around the country, students are wondering what’s next? Some ITT Tech students in Huntington who are trying to find the next step.

Rick Reeves is a former ITT Tech student who’s not sure what to do now that the schools is closing its doors across the country.

“This is absolutely a mess, I had one quarter left, two classes and I was about to finish,” Reeves said. “I’ve been at this for three years because of random problems and problems with the school and yeah this really hurts.”

Reeves attended an open house hosted by the West Virginia Community and Technical College System earlier this week meant to help students in his position figure out what to do next.

ITT Technical Institute was one of the largest for-profit institutions in the country, operating 130 campuses in 38 states including one near Huntington. But at the beginning of September, the U.S. Department of Education banned ITT students from receiving federal aid as part of a crackdown on federal money being used at for-profit colleges.

On September 6, ITT Tech announced its closure, leaving students in Huntington and across the country without an answer on how to continue or finish their education. The West Virginia Community and Technical College System along with the Higher Education Policy Commission are now trying to help those students. Sarah Tucker is the Chancellor for the West Virginia CTC System. She attended the same open house as Reeves this week.

“We’ve set up various financial aid tables for them so they can talk to people about getting their student loans discharged if that’s what they want to do, just general information about financial aid if that’s what they want to do,” Tucker said. “We also have three institutions here to talk with them and access their transcripts and see where they are and figure out if transferring is an option for them.”

 Tucker and the CTC system brought together BridgeValley Community and Technical College, Mountwest Community and Technical College and Huntington Junior College at the event to provide the students with transfer options. ITT Tech was asked to attend as well, but declined. Students also have the option to discharge their loans, essentially meaning the federal government will forgive their debt.  But Brian Weingart, Senior Director for Financial Aid with the West Virginia HEPC, said that’s not an option for every student. 

ITT Tech Open House

Credit Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting
WV Public Broadcasting
Former ITT Tech students wait to be seen at the West Virginia Community and Technical College open house.

“There is a couple of things, they had to be enrolled within 120 days of ITT closing,” Weingart said. “Then there is a form they fill out and send to the loan servicer in order to have their loans discharged, but they can’t use any of the credits they earned towards a new program or to an existing program, so they have to basically start all over again if they have their loans discharged.”

At almost $30,000 in debt, Ricky Reeves is considering getting his loans forgiven and starting over at a different institution. 

“With the amount of money they were charging us, I really want to get my loans forgiven and start over somewhere else,” Reeves said. “It would be cheaper to pay for a four-year-degree somewhere else then to finish one semester somewhere.”

ITT Tech declined to do an interview for this story, but  Vice President of Governmental Relations and External Affairs Nicole Elam offered a written statement. 

“Our focus and priority right now is helping students with their records and identifying future educational options,” Elam said. “As we have done since the morning of September 6th, we will continue to communicate directly to students via email, an internal student portal and to provide them with key contacts and information they need to know moving forward.”  

"That's really what's going to determine our chances of getting higher end employment or working at fast food restaurants," Martin Ogelsby said.

  But for students like Martin Oglesby who finished his coursework for an Associate’s Degree in Business Management on September 3rd, a Friday, before ITT Tech closed on the following Monday the 6th, he hasn’t heard from ITT. He wondered will he get a diploma? And will jobs consider his degree, a degree. 

“The only thing I’m worried about is if employers are going to look at my degree as if it’s credible, or did ITT just gives us our degrees because they needed some enrollment and that’s really what’s going to determine our chances of getting higher end employment or working at fast food restaurants,” Oglesby said.

Oglesby said the answer to him is simple, he wasn’t given a degree and had to earn it with hard work.