Local ITT Tech students react to school shutdown

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- After 50 years, ITT Technical Institute is shutting its doors for good.

The nationwide closing comes amid several accreditation issues and after the Department of Education stopped issuing federal loans for the school two weeks ago.

With an additional requirement to keep four times as much cash on hand as they currently have, ITT Tech decided to close its doors. Nationwide, that means 40,000 students and 8,000 employees won’t be headed back to class as planned next Monday.

Students and staff came by the Shadeland Avenue campus with questions Tuesday morning, pulling on the locked doors inside and out. All were visibly upset realizing no one was here with answers.

“This is all the work I did in one semester,” said student Karen Vaccaro. “Lots of paper, lots of work.  It’s a real shame that this  is going under.”

Vaccaro says the news, at a time when she was trying to turn her life around, is devastating.

“All of these people are losing their jobs,” said Vaccaro. “We’re losing our hope.”

Fellow student Antwan Dortch echoed that sentiment.

“I’m really just trying to figure it all out and process it all in the same boat without trying to just completely give up,” said Dortch.

Most of the feelings of hopelessness center around the uncertainty of transferring credits.

“As I gave it all that I got, it got snatched from me,” said Dortch. “It kind of hurt me to know that my kids’ futures could possibly depend on this very action that just happened.”

Dortch says he was just months from graduating. He’s now one of the many scrambling to see what exactly will happen to their credits when they transfer somewhere else.

As of Tuesday evening, a spokesperson from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education says they heard from Indiana Wesleyan University stating they’ll have a transfer agreement with ITT Tech and are willing to assist the state with displaced students. Details about how that will work are still being ironed out.

Vaccaro says she’s depending on something working out to make a big improvement in her life.

“I have to find another place that will accept me, if anywhere, to do something,” she said. “I was a waitress for 25 years. I can’t do that anymore, I’m 58 years old. I need, I need education. I really do.”

Former ITT Tech department chair reacts 

Joe Daily served as an instructor and later the chair of the School of Information Technology for ITT Tech. He said he saw some success stories in the technology field but also saw some students quickly fall behind.

Daily said the current situation reveals there may be a problem balancing the requirements of being a for-profit business and offering up an educational experience.

"Some may call that an unholy matrimony," Daily said. "You have a for-profit company with goals to make,  shareholders to answer to. On the other hand, you have the same company providing education services. There’s a temptation there to squeeze out as much revenue as you can from any given sector."

Daily added there was an effort to get as many new students enrolled each semester.

"Sometimes those people were great students, "Daily said. "Other times, it turned out the school or some aspects of the school were not for them."

He said he feels for the students and employees. Businesses who depended on ITT Tech for skilled workers are also hurt, Daily said.

Help for students

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education says they are working with other institutions in hopes of facilitating transfers for ITT tech students. While ITT Tech credits may not be accepted at certain schools, they are looking into whether students can test into programs.

The U.S. Department of Education is scheduled to host webinars for ITT Tech students Wednesday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. More information here.

For more information on how to obtain a transcript, find comparable programs or transfer credits, click here.