By Kalea Hall
Molly Dupuy planned to become a medical assistant once she graduated from ITT Technical Institute Youngstown branch this month.
Graduation was scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 17.
But on Tuesday, the Youngstown resident found out on Facebook the institute suddenly closed, leaving students unaware of what would become of their degrees and their studies.
“If I can’t get my transcripts and my diploma, I have not a clue [what I’ll do],” Dupuy said. “I guess I will work at Walmart like everyone else.”
Dupuy, who had completed a two-year program at ITT Tech in Youngstown, went to the campus on Meridian Road to see what she could find out, but no one was in sight.
“I came up to see if there’s still graduation and basically what’s going on,” Dupuy said. “I need to know.”
ITT Educational Services Inc., the parent company of ITT Tech, announced the closure of all of its 130 ITT Tech locations in 38 states Tuesday. The company said federal actions led to the closures.
The actions “forced us to conclude that we can no longer continue to operate our ITT Tech campuses and provide our students with the quality education they expect and deserve,” the company said in a statement. ITT provided information technology, electronics technology, drafting and design, business and nursing and health sciences programs, according to its website. ITT has taught students for about 50 years.
On Aug. 25, the U.S. Department of Education announced it would ban ITT Educational Services from enrolling new students using federal financial funds and it stepped up financial oversight of the for-profit educational provider.
Within 30 days, ITT is required to increase its surety from $94.3 million to $247 million or 40 percent of all Title IV aid the school received in 2015 payable in full.
The department made these decisions after ITT’s accreditor, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools found the school was not in compliance and likely would not become in compliance with ACICS’s accreditation criteria.
In 2014, the department put in place financial oversight measures for ITT and expanded those in June his year “due to significant concerns about ITT’s administrative capacity, organizational integrity, financial viability and ability to serve students,” an Aug. 25 department press release reads.
Ted Mitchell, the U.S. Under Secretary of Education, said Tuesday the department knew the closure outcome was a possibility after it increased its oversight of ITT.
“Ultimately, our responsibility is not to any individual institution – it’s to protect all students and all taxpayers,” Mitchell said in a statement. “I have no doubt that our decision to take action was the right one in service of these goals.”
ITT Educational Services provided technology-oriented undergraduate and graduate degree programs to about 40,000 students, who will be affected by the closure. The company said “an overwhelming majority” of positions for its more than 8,000 employees have been eliminated.
“We have always carefully managed expenses to align with our enrollments,” ITT said in a statement. “We had no intention prior to the receipt of the most recent sanctions of closing down despite the challenging regulatory environment that now threatens all proprietary higher education. We have also always worked tirelessly to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, and to uphold our ethic of continuous improvement.”
ITT noted it was not provided a hearing or appeal to the sanctions made against it.
“We believe the government’s action was inappropriate and unconstitutional, however, with the ITT Technical Institutes ceasing operations, it will now likely rest on other parties to understand these reprehensible actions and to take action to attempt to prevent this from happening again,” ITT’s statement reads.
ITT would not answer questions outside of the statement.
The statement did say there will be some remaining staff helping students retrieve their records and find future educational options.
The Department of Education is contacting ITT students to inform students of what options they have.