September 28, 2016
ITT Tech fallout continues
When ITT Technical Institute announced it would be closing its doors recently, thousands of students across the country were left without options. They had invested time and money in a degree, but, partially completed, they had few options for completion. Nothing to show for their time but debt.
Now the misery is spreading. The national accrediting agency that offered its stamp of approval for ITT Tech just had its own accreditation pulled by Uncle Sam. The ACICS has accredited more than 200 other colleges in addition to ITT Tech. That’s upwards of 600,000 students. Most of these schools are for-profit entities.
Now the agency has 30 days to appeal the decision … and the clock is ticking. If the appeal process is a losing effort, the other 200-plus schools accredited by ACICS will have 18 months to seek accreditation elsewhere. It’s a huge problem for hundreds of thousands of students potentially impacted.
Students at non-accredited schools are not eligible for government financial aid such as Pell Grants or government-backed loans. Worse, they’re stuck, because credits from non-accredited schools rarely transfer to accredited institutions.
From a PR perspective, this draws those 200-plus schools into a major PR problem. Tarred with the same brush, they will have to deal with panicking current students as well as decreasing enrollment as other students look elsewhere to begin or complete their educations, hoping to get out of the sinking ship before they’re stuck in a situation similar to that being experienced by now former ITT Tech students.
Not that ITT Tech is the first ACICS college to leave its students hanging. Corinthian College also abruptly shut its doors last year, stranding countless students, in lieu of dealing with a $30 million government fine for “overstating job placement rates” read: lying about the most important marketing metric.
And those are just the biggest headlines. More than half of the federal financial aid funds received by ACICS schools was doled out to colleges under some sort of state or federal investigation. So, it stands to reason Corinthian and ITT Tech will not be the only schools to fold. This sense of impending doom is a PR crisis these schools cannot afford to ignore. They need to take drastic PR and administrative steps immediately to distance themselves from the fallout.