FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2016
Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216
Balderas also requested the New Mexico Delegation investigate and remedy concerns surrounding ITT Tech’s sudden closure
Albuquerque, NM – Today, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas urged the U.S. Department of Education to protect the students and victims of the for-profit education institution ITT Technical Institute. In a letter sent today to the Secretary of Education, Attorney General Balderas expressed his alarm that the Department acted without concern for the welfare of students. In a separate letter, Attorney General Balderas urged New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation and the chairs of the House Education and the Workforce and Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions committees to investigate and remedy the concerns surrounding ITT Tech’s sudden closure.
“My first priority is to protect New Mexicans as they try to better their lives and the lives of their families by seeking higher education,” said Attorney General Balderas. “We will continue to fight to protect the integrity of education in New Mexico so that those who are seeking to advance their careers have legitimate options.”
Yesterday, the company behind ITT Technical Institute announced that it will permanently close its 130 campuses located across 39 states. The closure is expected to impact approximately 35,000 students and 8,000 employees across the country. ITT’s decision to close its doors comes after the U.S. Department of Education levied significant financial oversight measures on ITT after twice finding it to be out of compliance with the standards of its accreditor, the Accrediting Counsel for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). ITT’s closure leaves students who are in the middle of their course work without a degree and in substantial debt.
In his letter, Attorney General Balderas said, “The Department should have devised sanctions that would have required the institution to responsibly phase out its operations and meet its commitment to the students. Instead, the Department levied financial sanctions and should have anticipated ITT’s sudden collapse.” Attorney General Balderas went on to urge the Department “to examine what the Department can do to eradicate and prevent the abuses we have seen and continue to see in the predatory practices of for-profit education institutions who put profits above the success of their students. These students were harmed by the lack of oversight of the for-profit education industry. The Department must do more to protect students who are simply trying to better their lives and the lives of their families.”
The Office of the New Mexico Attorney General has been pursuing litigation against the company since 2014 when the office filed its lawsuit alleging the use of unfair, deceptive, and predatory business practices by ITT toward students seeking to enroll and currently enrolled at ITT.
Attorney General Balderas’ office is working with state and federal agencies to provide affected students information about their options.
It is extremely important that New Mexicans be aware of federal loan discharge scams targeting current and former ITT students. These scams may crop up on social media, by telephone, and by mail. Do not provide your personal identifying information to anyone. If you are contacted by someone in reference to federal loan discharge, report it to the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General at our toll free number: 1-866-627-3249 or file a complaint at our website: www.nmag.gov.
The U.S. Department of Education will post updates on ITT-related federal student loan discharge at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/itt . There is also a team of U.S. Department of Education employees ready to answer telephone questions at 800-4FEDAID.
See attached for a copy of the letter Attorney General Balderas sent to Secretary King this afternoon.
# # #