(Boston, MA) Today’s announcement by the nationwide for-profit school ITT Tech that it is immediately closing all of its 130-plus campuses represents a major victory in the fight against predatory student lending, according to Bruce Marks, Founder and CEO of NACA, one of the nation’s largest community advocacy organizations.
In July last year, NACA’s groundbreaking Student Debt Action program took on ITT Tech and its largest shareholder, Putnam Investments, to protest the school’s predatory student lending, outrageously low graduation rates (less than one third) and false promises of job placement. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that federal student loans and grants would no longer be used for enrollment at ITT Tech’s 137 campuses and that the school would need to produce more than $150 million in collateral. Instead, ITT Tech opted to shut down its entire system.
“This is a huge victory in the fight against predatory student lending, dealing with the student debt crisis and starting to turn around what has become a predatory economy in general. One major contributor to the student loan crisis is gone, and this will send a clear signal to other private, for-profit schools that they cannot continue to make empty promises to their students while creating a financial hardship for those students at the same time.”
On July 22, 2215, Mr. Marks personally led a group of protesters from NACA’s Student Debt Action project in a march on the headquarters of Putman Investments, the single largest stockholder in ITT Tech. The group’s objective was to persuade Putnam to divest itself of its interests in ITT Tech and to force the school to stop its predatory private lending practices. He said that Putnam “has the responsibility to make sure that they not just divest but to see to it that ITT changes its predatory practices and that they really provide true academic excellence to their students”.
After having taken $5 Billion in federal money since 2010, ITT Tech’s announcement eliminates a significant player in creating the country’s student debt crisis, now totaling more than $1.3 trillion.
The announcement that debt relief will be available for ITT students who are unable or choose not to transfer credits to another school came as good news to Marks. “ITT’s recruiting methods misled its students about the quality of the education they would receive and about the opportunities that would be waiting for them when they graduated. Less than one third actually graduated, and placement rates were incredibly low. These students deserve to have their federal student loan debt cancelled, and we hope that private student loans for ITT Tech students will be cancelled as well”, Marks added.