PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tens of thousands of students are scrambling to figure out their next steps after ITT-Tech announced Tuesday it is closing all 130 of its campuses nationwide, including four in the Delaware Valley.
“I cried, I’m not going to lie. I cried,” said Alyssa Kain, who attended the Levittown campus. “It was very upsetting.”
Kain is $40,000 in the hole and was just six months away from graduating with a criminal justice degree, when she found out some devastating news via Facebook.
“One of my classmates said the school is shut down and that’s how I found out about it,” she said.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education issued sanctions on the for-profit chain of schools after years of concerns surrounding their ability to serve students.
In a statement Tuesday, ITT Tech’s administration wrote that the sanctions, which included a ban on enrolling new students who depend on federal financial aid, ultimately forced them to close for good.
“I was more shocked that they closed all the schools nationwide that fast, because I just heard about this a couple months ago and for them to shut it down that fast, it was shocking,” said Benjamin Bowman, also a former student at the Levittown campus.
The Department of Education published on its blog that recently enrolled ITT Tech students will have two options.
If they completely restart their education somewhere new, their federal loan debt may be forgiven.
Or if they are close to graduating, they may be able to transfer their credits to another institution to finish their degree.
“What’s important for these students is to really assess their individual situation and what’s best for them,” said Dr. Samuel Hirsch, vice president of academic and student success at the Community College of Philadelphia said affected students can register for CCP’s next term, which starts in October.
“We want to help them as best as we can,” Hirsch said.
Kain, her emotions still raw, said she and her classmates need all the help they can get.
“I’m only 21 years old. I’m just starting out in life,” she said. “I’m trying to get my life together and I thought I made the right decision and I felt like I made the wrong decision.”
Bucks County Community College is also stepping up to help former ITT-Tech students. The college is holding special information sessions at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday at its Lower Bucks campus.