Board preparing for ITT Tech fallout to spread to other for-profit colleges

ITT Technical Institute campus in Austin on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
ITT Technical Institute campus in Austin on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board is preparing for the ITT Technical Institute fallout to spread to other for-profit colleges across the state.

Raymond Paredes, the Commissioner of Higher Education, gave KXAN an update on for-profit schools. Over the summer, ITT Tech caved in because the federal government would not back student loans to the school. More than 3,000 Texas students couldn’t attend classes or get access to their transcripts or records.

Now, the Texas Attorney General’s Office is working with a trustee from the college to digitize all Texas records with the hopes that students can access them after November. Due to the nature of their business model, 33 for-profit college campuses are on the state’s watch list that could end up in the same position as ITT Tech. Approximately 5,000 to 8,000 Texas students attend those campuses. Commissioner Paredes didn’t want to go into specific campuses or colleges in the fear that it would become “a self-fulfilled prophecy” that they’d collapse.

In next year’s Legislative session, the Higher Education Coordinating Board is requesting $750,000 for an additional staff member to build an online database of for-profit college records. They also are looking into creating new laws protecting for-profit colleges and students who attend them; so if one goes belly-up again, there will be a smoother transition.

Texas community colleges have specifically targeted ITT tech students who now need to finish their degree, especially in the much-needed nursing field. Some schools even have an ITT tech recruiting button right on their home page.

While some students have already transferred into local community colleges or other schools, the Higher Education Coordinating Board expects the vast majority of the 3,000-plus students to be re-enrolled in another school by this spring or next fall semester.

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