WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich sent a letter commending the U.S. Department of Education for its decision to stop additional federal student aid from flowing to ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT Tech).
Following these restrictions and serious concerns echoed by law enforcement agencies and ITT Tech’s accreditor with regard to the company’s “deceptive practices, dubious educational quality, and financial integrity,” ITT Tech announced that it would halt operations and shutdown all of its campuses on September 6, 2016.
Approximately 35,000 students are estimated to have been enrolled at ITT Tech immediately prior to closure.
The letter was led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and signed by 23 senators.
“We commend the Department’s action to halt taxpayer dollars from flowing to a school that could no longer demonstrate academic integrity or financial responsibility,” wrote the Senators in the letter. “These transitions are never easy for students, but we remain hopeful that by doing everything possible to make it easier, and by making sure students are getting the relief they should, ITT Tech’s former students will be able to move past this challenge and continue on their path to success.”
In the letter, the Senators urge the Department of Education to “use its existing legal authority to increase the total debt relief and support available to former ITT Tech students.”
Specifically, the Senators are requesting an extension of the current 120-day window to allow students who withdraw before the school’s closure to still receive a discharge, making loan discharge more automatic for students that don’t fill out a formal application, stopping collections on ITT Tech borrowers in default, and for steps to prevent or retract any negative credit bureau reporting by loan servicers. The letter also calls on the Department of Education to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure that veterans who were enrolled at ITT Tech are able to make informed decisions about how to best use any remaining GI Bill benefits.
“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 … We support the Department’s work in maintaining accountability in higher education and making sure students are always being put first.”
The full list of Senators signing the letter include: Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Full text of the letter is available here.