Department of Education Offers Online Service to Former ITT Tech Students

The new online platform is designed to personalize the students' future studies

Department of Education Offers Online Service to Former ITT Tech Students
Image: Pixabay
September 21, 2016

Thousands of students displaced when ITT Tech suddenly closed all of its campuses now have a way to continue their higher education.

Together with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and Beyond 12, the Department of Education (DOE) is offering a new online platform designed to personalize the students' next steps, whether that will be continuing their education or receiving discharges of their federal student loans.

The resources at NextStepsEdu.org will match students with counselors in financial aid and academics across the country. These counselors will be able to provide critical guidance to students unsure of the best way to continue their studies.

Students can send questions to their advisors by email, phone, or text on topics relating to academics, financial aid, and options for federal loan discharges.

All counselors are working education professionals who will be pre-screened and trained prior to matching with students, stated the DOE.

The agency has also announced partnerships with the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase student option awareness.

Veterans Affairs representatives have helped the DOE to host webinars for affected students, and the Department of Labor provides information not only to the students but also to former ITT Tech employees at almost 2,500 American Job Centers.

The DOE stated that it has hosted numerous webinars, released online resources, and personally contacted more than 35,000 students since the for-profit college chain closed.

Student options can be confusing. Every student who had been currently enrolled at the school, or who had withdrawn after May 6, 2016, is eligible for a closed school discharge of their federal student loans. Private student loans, however, are not included in this option, and students who choose to transfer their educational credits and enroll in another school are not eligible.

As helpful as this service is, several senators are calling on the DOE to do more to assist former ITT students. Twenty-three sent a letter to Education Secretary John King urging the agency to extend the window of the closed school discharge to either on or before March 1, 2014, the date when state and federal regulators began to scrutinize the school.

"By discharging the debt held by ITT Tech's many non-completers, the Department also prevents the exceptionally high risk of default faced by this group of borrowers," the senators wrote. They also urged the DOE to cease collections on recent ITT Tech borrowers who, although they are in default, would fall within the expanded timeline for discharging the loans. Finally, the lawmakers requested that the agency take action to make sure that students will not be lured again by another for-profit college facing an investigation or lawsuit.

"Postsecondary education should be a pathway to the middle class, and predatory colleges that damage these dreams by targeting and exploiting our neediest students must be held accountable," they wrote.