CONSUMER AFFAIRS: Department of Education urged to investigate ITT Educational Services

Career College Central Summary:

  • After the downfall of Corinthian Colleges, which declared bankruptcy earlier this month following years of legal troubles which included federal agencies ranging from the Department of Education (DoE) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), plus the attorneys general of several different states, all alleging that Corinthian-owned schools defrauded students in various ways, lawmakers and other public officials have turned a sharper eye to other for-profit schools dependent upon a steady stream of federally backed, bankruptcy-proof student loans to stay in business.
  • Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-California) released an open letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging the DoE to “conduct an investigation of and exercise increased oversight over the for-profit college operator ITT Educational Services, Inc.,” which has allegedly “engaged in deceptive and predatory lending practices, pushing students into high-interest loans they know cannot be repaid, at vast taxpayer expense.”
  • Speier's letter, available in .pdf form here, includes a list of complaints which sound depressingly familiar to anyone who knows Corinthian's story.
  • Predatory lending

    • Last year, for example, the feds sued Corinthian for “predatory lending practices,” and Speier's letter mentions similar practices from ITT: “The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges on May 12, 2015 alleging that that [sic] the CEO and CFO of ITT Educational Services covered up balloning loan obligations stemming from the company's …. predatory lending programs.”
    • Last November, a former ITT student in Pennsylvania wrote us to say “I was one of those students who signed for a private loan in order to continue my education. Unaware of the lies and deceit that was going on within the company. The program of study was electronics…. I was assured that upon graduation I would have a career, not a job.”
    • But after graduating in 2011, she discovered her degree was useless: “I am a temporary employee. My credit is shot and I make a little above minimum wage. I have gone on numerous interviews just to be laughed at and questioned about why ITT. … I am over $50,000 in debt because I believed I was getting a good education that would lead to a good future.”
    • And remember: that debt, like almost all student-loan debt, can't even be discharged in bankruptcy. But a former student who goes over his head in debt to attend a traditional, accredited state college or university at least has an authentic college degree (or credits to count toward one) to show for that outrageous debt load. ITT students say they don't even get that.

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