Good news for college students looking to avoid getting ripped off (but bad news for the always-thriving “late-night TV commercials where people tell you how happy they are to repair air conditioners” industry): the U.S. government has ordered the ITT Technical Institute to shut down its enrollment. Technically, the Department Of Education has only blocked the school—which promises students a “realistic college experience” and all the student loan debt they can eat—from enrolling students using federal aid, but since the company’s business model relies almost exclusively on snarfling up that sweet student loan money, the decision means ITT Tech’s doors are functionally closed.
Like its fellow for-profit schools (like DeVry and Phoenix University), ITT Tech has been under fire for years for offering up sub-community-college-level educations at several times the price. John Oliver notably went after their practices in a Last Week Tonight piece from 2014, noting that the companies spend twice as much on advertising as they do on teachers, and criticizing their predatory recruitment techniques. These range from leveraging a subject’s “pain points”—asking low-income prospective students, “You don’t want to work at McDonald’s all your life, do you?”—all the way up to allegedly enrolling veterans recovering from brain injuries in order to get access to their G.I. Bill funding.
So far, the government is only targeting ITT Tech for sanctions. But given that its fellow for-profits all operate off the same grubby playbook, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before Ashford or Argosy or Walden or any of the dozens of other so-called universities profiting off of people’s desire to better themselves go the same justifiably shit-canned way.