ITT stops enrolling students at Ohio locations

Investigations have targeted recruiting practices.

ITT Technical Institute has stopped enrolling new students at all of its locations following a ban last week from the U.S. Department of Education, the school announced.

ITT, a for-profit college chain, has locations in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education banned ITT Educational Services, the company that operates ITT, from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid. It did not ban the school from enrolling other students.

Department officials announced the action Thursday amid a series of measures that could threaten the survival of the chain, which has been the subject of state and federal investigations focusing on its recruiting and accounting practices.

According to its Twitter feed, ITT was recruiting students to attend as late as last week for its fall quarter that begins Sept. 12.

A person who answered the phone at the Stop Eight Road location north of Dayton in Vandalia would not say if the school was open for students and referred all questions to a corporate spokeswoman. Calls were not returned from the corporate office.

ITT has more than 40,000 students who remain eligible for federal aid. Should ITT close, the Education Department has suggested it will forgive the federal loans of existing students.

Under President Barack Obama, the Education Department has led a crackdown on for-profit colleges that have misled students or failed to deliver the results they promised.

ITT is not the only for-profit college in the area to stop enrolling students.

After 100 years in Dayton, Miami-Jacobs announced in July it would no longer accept new students at its Dayton, Springboro, Troy and Sharonville campuses.

“We will assist students in transferring to other schools if they choose to continue their education and training elsewhere,” spokesman Chuck Vella said in July. “This was a difficult but necessary decision.”

Miami-Jacobs kept its Columbus and Cleveland campuses open for students.

John Ware, executive director of the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools, said the number of career colleges registered in Ohio has dipped from a peak of 311 five years ago, to 250. And the number of students served by those schools has been cut almost in half in that span, from 96,744 to 51,718.

The Art Institute of Cincinnati and Brown Mackie College’s Cincinnati and Findlay campuses recently stopped accepting new students as well.

Sinclair College spokesman Adam Murka said his school has started receiving inquiries from ITT students this week. Sinclair began classes last week, but Murka said students could enroll in a shorter “B term” that is offered this quarter.

ITT has been ordered to pay $152 million to the federal department within 30 days to cover student refunds and other liabilities in case the company closes. The chain, based in Indiana, is still paying another $44 million demanded by the department in June for the same reason.

The education department also has prohibited ITT from awarding its executives any pay raises or bonuses, and it must develop “teach-out” plans that would help current students finish their programs at other colleges if the chain shuts down.

Under the new measures, current students can continue receiving federal grants and loans.

Education Secretary John King said the government is taking action to protect students and taxpayers following “troubling” findings about the company. This month, a group that accredits ITT found that the chain failed to meet several basic standards and was unlikely to comply in the future.

“It simply would not be responsible or in the best interest of students to allow ITT to continue enrolling new students who rely on federal financial aid,” King said during a telephone conference with reporters.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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