Fulton Montgomery Community College offers help to ITT students

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton-Montgomery Community College is offering to work with displaced students affected by the recent closure of ITT Technical Institute to help them complete their degrees.

ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit-college, announced it’s closing all of its 136 locations in 38 states on Sept. 6.

ITT Tech operated three campuses in New York state: Albany; Getzville, Erie County; and Liverpool in Onondaga County.

FMCC President Dustin Swanger said FMCC will be working with any ITT Tech students to see what can transfer to FMCC.

“We’re trying to reach out to ITT Tech students, specifically those who may have been going from our area into Albany for education and try and let them know their future is not lost,” Swanger said.

Swanger said FM will be looking at what courses the students have taken at ITT Tech and figure out what can transfer and what credit they can be given for those courses.

Swanger said the college is enouraging any students who need to finish their degrees to enroll in spring 2017 semester courses. Swanger said FM is also looking at allowing ITT Tech students to take independent study classes to help them complete degrees.

Swanger said the college began working to accommodate students from ITT Tech since learning ITT Tech would not be allowed to enroll new students with financial aid.

The ITT Tech closing came after the U.S. Department of Education announced it would no longer allow ITT to enroll new students with federal aid.

In a news release, the Department of Education stated the school was the subject of a number of state and federal investigations and had been found twice to be out of compliance with its accreditor standards in 2016.

The federal department was requiring ITT to boost its cash reserves and increase its oversight over the company in the months preceding the closure. The Department of Education had also announced it would be slowing down when ITT received its federal aid payments.

The ITT closing affects some 8,000 employees nationwide, according to the college.

In a letter on its website, ITT Tech says the closure was due to federal regulators requiring the college “to increase our surety requirement to 40 percent of our Title IV federal funding” and the decision to place to college “under ‘Heightened Cash Monitoring Level 2.'”

ITT Tech alleges in the letter the decisions made by the federal government were “unwarranted” and states the actions were ‘inappropriate and unconstitutional.”

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. wrote students can have their federal student loans for programs at ITT discharged and may be able to transfer their credits.

ITT Tech students who were attending the school when it closed or had withdrawn from the school on or after May 6 can apply for a closed school loan discharge or transfer their earned credits to another institution to continue their education.

Several colleges and universities across the country have been trying to work with ITT Tech students who were left in the cold when the college abruptly closed.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced a series of proposed federal rules to help students.

In a news release, Schumer said the proposed rules include requiring colleges and universities to notify students of a possible closure, take legal action against a school that misled students about a school’s nationally recognized education standards and create a way for students to discharge their federal student loans if they “fall victim to unfair and abusive practices employed by institutions of higher education.”

“College students and their parents should not have to shake the 8 Ball when it comes to asking about their school’s financial footing,” Schumer said in the release. “Students and parents deserve crystal-clear answers from the school themselves and a fair warning if fiscal trouble could lead to an abrupt closure. Anything less is just unacceptable. On top of that, they deserve the right to recoup their losses by taking legal action against schools and/or discharging student loans if they’ve been defrauded by institutions like this. The fact that college closures across the U.S. are on the rise demands the U.S. Department of Education implement better protections for our students as soon as possible. Our young people and their parents need to be told the truth about their colleges’ financial health or lack thereof, even if the truth hurts.”

ITT Tech students who need more information about loans and transferring can go to www.studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/itt.

Kerry Minor can be reached at [email protected].

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