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Community Colleges Roll Out Welcome Mat For Jilted ITT Tech Students

Photo credit: Southwestern College

Students walk through the Southwestern College campus in Chula Vista in this undated photo.

Southwestern and Palomar colleges say they're ready to enroll students hit by the closure of ITT Technical Institute campuses in National City and Vista.

Southwestern College is reaching out to some 1,000 ITT Technical Institute students who learned Tuesday their school in National City had abruptly shut down.

ITT Tech closed all 130 of its schools nationwide, including another local campus in Vista, after the U.S. Department of Education banned the for-profit college chain from enrolling new students with federal financial aid.

In response to the closure, Southwestern has scheduled a workshop 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at its Higher Education Center to help the students apply for financial aid, sort out credit transfers and enroll in classes that begin Oct. 17.

"We offer over 300 degrees and certificates, and a number of them are in career and technical programs," said Vice President of Student Affairs Angelica Suarez. "So there's certainly some parallels in terms of the programs."

Suarez said Southwestern didn't have an agreement with ITT Tech that allows her school to automatically honor course credit earned there. She said counselors would work with students on a case-by-case basis. For classes that don't transfer, students may be able to take proficiency tests and petition professors to waive prerequisites.

"We will certainly exhaust all options in working with students individually to ensure that they're able to continue with their educational goals," Suarez said.

Palomar College, near ITT Tech's shuttered Vista campus, has also rolled out the welcome mat with a special webpage and workshop for ITT Tech students. Counselors will be on hand 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Workshops For ITT Tech Students

Southwestern College: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, at 880 National City Blvd. in National City

Palomar College: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, at 1140 West Mission Road, Room MD-157 in San Marcos

"What we'd be talking to the students about is kind of what their career goals are, what sort of timeline they're looking at, and then we'll try to match them up as best as possible with what we have to offer," said the school's vice president of student services, Adrian Gonzales.

Gonzales said Palomar offers more than 250 degrees and certificates, including many on the career and technical pathways students may have started at ITT Tech. It has Late Start and Fast Track classes beginning as early as Sept. 20.

On Aug. 25, the Department of Education banned federal financial aid for ITT Tech after the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools refused to accredit the school, citing problems with job placement, retention and financial stability. The department did not require ITT Tech to shut down.

ITT Educational Services, ITT Tech's parent company, said in a statement this week regulators have left thousands of students in the lurch and should have allowed the company to appeal their decision.

"It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service," the statement said. "With what we believe is a complete disregard by the U.S. Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected."

The company laid off those 8,000 employees, effective Tuesday.

Students enrolled in ITT within the past 120 days can apply through the Department of Education to have their student loans cancelled.

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