ITT Tech Students Start Debt Strike
Over 100 former students of the now-defunct for-profit ITT Technical Institute have announced a debt strike against their government-issued student loans. The former students claim the debts are illegitimate as ITT provided a substandard education that makes it impossible for them to earn enough money pay their loans, and that the government issuing the loans failed to protect the students from the predatory practices of ITT.
On September 6 of this year, ITT Tech closed all its campuses, saying, “The actions of and sanctions from the U.S. Department of Education have forced us to cease operations of the ITT Technical Institutes, and we will not be offering our September quarter. We reached this decision only after having exhausted the exploration of alternatives, including transfer of the schools to a non-profit or public institution.”
The shutdown leaves students pursuing degrees with nowhere to go and hurts former students, as an ITT Tech degree is now practically worthless.
The ITT debt strikers offered solidarity with the debt striking former students of for-profit Corinthian Colleges Inc., which declared bankruptcy in May of 2015. The students claimed that both ITT and Corinthian were poorly regulated by the Department of Education long before they went out of business.
The statement from the ITT debt strikers reads:
To President Obama and Secretary [of Education] King:
We are former students of ITT Technical Institutes and members of the Debt Collective. We refuse to pay our government-issued student loans. We do not owe them. In fact, you owe us and our fellow ITT borrowers. By striking our debts, we begin to collect on your obligation to erase them.
In August, you announced that you would ban further enrollment at ITT. Finally. Since you did not announce you would cancel our debts, we have no choice but to declare a debt strike.
Each of us is still left with tens of thousands of dollars of debt to you, the very agency that was supposed to have protected us from ITT’s scam.
In demanding full discharges of our federal student loans, we join with former Corinthian students who, through their brave collective action, made discharges for defrauded students a possibility. Most members of the Corinthian Collective have still received no relief, however. We support them, and we know they support us, in our joint quest for debt relief.
The declaration of the Corinthian strikers is no less true now than it was over a year ago:
We trusted that education would lead to a better life. And we trusted you to ensure that the education system in this country would do so. Instead, each month you force us to make payments into an immoral system that profits from our aspirations. This is a profound betrayal.
These are debts we cannot pay and should never have been forced to. Erase them now. Return what we have already paid. Our debt strike will continue until justice is served.
After former students at Corinthian College declared a debt strike, many students did have their federal student loan debt forgiven. At the time, then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said of for-profit education companies like Corinthian, “Some of these schools have brought the ethics of payday lending into higher education.”
Will ITT Tech’s cheated students get similar relief?
Federal student loan debt is notoriously difficult to discharge. Even personal bankruptcy will not get rid of it. The strikers only real option is to get the government to wipe out the debt. Otherwise, they will be plagued by the debt for the rest of their lives until its paid.