Bill Nelson urges protection for Florida’s ITT Tech students

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urged federal authorities Tuesday to protect students enrolled at the ITT Technical Institute campuses in Florida as the for-profit chain shuts down.

“While I support the Department of Education’s efforts to increase oversight of our nation’s for-profit universities, it’s important that we do everything we can to protect the students enrolled at these schools when they unexpectedly shut down — as we’ve done before in similar cases,” Nelson said in a letter to Secretary of Education John King Jr.

Students at 140 campuses across the country learned Tuesday that ITT would not begin classes as scheduled, but was closing down in the face of federal sanctions targeting its recruitment practices, including promises about enrollees’ job prospects.

On Aug. 25, the department barred ITT from enrolling new students who depend on federal aid.

As of Tuesday, a notice on the company’s webpage said: “We are currently not enrolling new students.”

In Florida, ITT operated campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.

On his department’s blog, King said students would be allowed to discharge their education loans or attempt to transfer credits to another institution — the “teach-out” option.

Nelson suggested the first option was a better choice.

“I urge your department to work closely with the students enrolled at ITT Tech and keep them fully informed of the company’s intentions to reimburse them and provide them access to their transcripts and records so that they can continue their education elsewhere,” he told King.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.