Butler County schools offering help for former ITT students

As previously reported by the Journal-News, ITT Technical Institute stopped enrolling new students receiving federal aid at all of its locations following a ban last month from the U.S. Department of Education. The for-profit college chain has locations in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati.

The department did not ban the school from enrolling other students who do not receive federal financial aid.

To assist students impacted by ITT’s federal ban, Cincinnati State said it is offering free educational coaching and a review of their academic credits, career goals and financial aid status.

“These students have clearly shown they understand that the path to a better career starts with education,” said Robbin Hoopes, interim provost for Cincinnati State, which operates a branch campus in Middletown. “We want to do everything we can to help them stay on the path to success.”

The goal is to help students transition into an education pathway at Cincinnati State or another career technical center, including Butler Tech and Great Oaks, officials said.

“We believe the students will be surprised by the range of short-term and two-year programs offered by Cincinnati State and the Ohio Career Technical Centers,” said Amy Waldbillig, vice president of workforce development for Cincinnati State. “We believe the students will also be surprised by the affordability of our programs when compared to for-profit colleges.”

Cincinnati State is the region’s largest community and technical college, with campuses in Cincinnati, Middletown and Harrison. It offers more than 130 associate degree and certificate programs.

“Butler Tech and our partners at Cincinnati State are ready to put students from ITT Tech back on a stable path to bettering themselves through career-focused education,” said Jon Graft, Superintendent and CEO of Butler Tech, which has campuses in Hamilton and Liberty Twp.

“There are many options students can choose from in terms of their educational pathway,” Hoopes said. “Our goal will be to help them find and complete an affordable path that is best suited to their future.”

A special contact number has been designated within Cincinnati State where students may call to receive guidance and referrals — 513-569-1738.

Department officials announced the ban Aug. 25 amid a series of measures that could threaten the survival of the ITT chain, which has been the subject of state and federal investigations focusing on its recruiting and accounting practices.

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.

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

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

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 Ohio in 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. 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.

Reporting by the Associated Press and previous reporting by staff writers Jeremy Kelley and Rich Gillette are included in this story.