WESTMINSTER, Colo. — For 50 years, ITT Technical Institute promised a college education that’s focused on careers. But Tuesday, the for-profit school is out of a job itself.
ITT Tech abruptly and permanently shut its doors in Colorado and nationwide. The move affects 8,000 employees and 40,000 students at 140 locations.
In Colorado, ITT Tech operated two campuses, in Westminster and Aurora, with enrollment at fewer than 300 students.
The closures could also close the books for some on the dreams of a college education.
“I’m surprised it’s happening now. It should have happened much sooner,” former ITT Tech student Ernie Reed said.
He put his dream on hold 10 years ago as a student at the now-closed Westminster campus.
“I had friends who graduated to this day couldn’t get a job with that degree. So I kinda just wasted two years of my life and a lot of money that I have to pay back,” Reed said.
He said he spent $20,000 toward a degree in electronics engineering — and now works in another field.
“I am working here for a call center, but I am pursuing a civil engineering career at Metro (State University of Denver),” he said.
Another former student who only wanted to be identified as Dominic, still owes about $35,000 since graduating three years ago.
He got a degree in computer science, but he wishes he had gone to school elsewhere with a more comprehensive education.
“I never really got full grasp on a certain area of the field. It was learn a little of this, a little of that,” he said.
The school stopped enrolling new students Aug. 29 after the government cut ITT off from federal funding for falling out of compliance with accreditation standards.
ITT said, in part, in a statement: “The damage done to our students and employees, as well as to our shareholders and the American taxpayers, is irrevocable.”
“With ITT closing, it makes me nervous,” Dominic said.
He worries what the closure could mean for impressing future employers.
“’This guy, we don’t care about because his school is closed and that says a lot about what they taught,’” Dominic said is what he fears those hiring will feel about his ITT credential.
Current students could try to transfer their credits to another school. But even ITT’s website warns student that’s unlikely to happen. Also, current and recent students will be able to ask their loans be forgiven.
The U.S Department of Education said that amount could climb to $500 million in taxpayer dollars. It will update the site with webinars starting Wednesday and going through Sept. 22.