Rep. Gene Green Co-Sponsors ITT Student Veterans Fix
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Gene Green (TX-29) announced that he would co-sponsor the Veterans Education Recovery and Restoration Act (H.R. 3991), legislation that would address the significant consequences faced by student veterans enrolled at institutions that close abruptly. The legislation would reinstate GI Bill education assistance benefits to student veterans and continue housing allowance payments through the current semester to keep student veterans from becoming homeless while they decide on their next steps. This bipartisan, bicameral bill, introduced by Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), would provide relief to the roughly 12,500 veterans and their families enrolled at ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT) nationwide:
“The Veterans Education Recovery and Restoration Act would honor the sacrifice made by our student veterans and keep whole the promise we made to them,” said Rep. Gene Green. “The student veterans affected by the closures of three ITT campuses in Houston and Harris County put their lives on the line for our country with the understanding that we would take care of them in their time of need. Congress has a moral obligation to safeguard the benefits they have earned."
“Almost half of the student veterans affected are married with children, and 14% are single parents. The Veterans Administration (VA) does not have any discretion under current law to continue or restore GI Bill payments once a school closes. This legislation would provide the VA with that ability,” added Rep. Green.
“The majority of ITT students come from humble backgrounds and invest thousands of dollars in their education for a better future for themselves and their families. It is my hope that student veterans do not give up on their education. Restarting or continuing one’s education at a high-quality, reputable institution may feel like a setback today, but it is a decision that will pay off in the long run,” Rep. Green said in closing.
Please find an overview of what student veterans and other GI Bill beneficiaries need to know now regarding ITT’s closure.
Option 1: Transfer
Students can transfer to a new school. If they act quickly to transfer, they can avoid the possibility of any break in housing allowance. If the housing allowance is critical to the student, then he or she may want to act now to transfer. But there are other considerations below.
If a student wants to transfer to a new school, there are helpful resources:
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ college search engine “GI Bill College Comparison Tool” is here.
- The U.S. Education Department's college search engine “College Scorecard” is here.
- A reliable, non-profit, community college search engine is here.
- Tips on choosing a college for veterans are here.
- A list of all of the ITT Tech locations with the nearest community college is here, including a list with a map view.
Please steer your constituents clear of private company websites, which often push students to schools that pay to be listed on the website. The U.S. government websites don't accept any money to promote schools; the U.S. government provides fair and accurate information.
The best education is not online, but in a classroom. However, if a student really wants to study online, please recommend that he or she attends a public online college, such as Penn State World Campus, Arizona State University Online, or Georgia Tech University Online. Many community colleges also have online offerings.
One of the best schools to transfer to is a local community college. Community colleges are properly accredited, their credits are respected by other colleges and universities, and their degrees are often more respected by employers than schools like ITT. Also, they have very low tuition, so if a student has to repeat credits and his or her GI Bill months are running out, the financial hardship will be less.
Unfortunately, a student might face the hard truth that some credits may not transfer to a new school and the student may need to repeat credits. Why? Because ITT’s credits are often not respected by other schools (and likely won’t be respected by many employers). That’s a hard truth to face, especially after ITT probably promised students they were great.
Option 2: Federal Education Loan Discharge
If an ITT student has not finished the education program and he or she hasn’t yet transferred credits to “a comparable educational program at another school,” the student will likely be eligible to have federal loans discharged (forgiven) by the U.S. Department of Education under the “closed school discharge” rules (more information here).
- In order to qualify for a “closed school discharge,” the student will have to reject a “teach out” plan that is offered when ITT closes. (ITT and the government may push the student to take the “teach out,” but if accepted the “teach out,” the student cannot get the “closed school discharge” of loans. On the other hand, the student may get more credits to transfer in a “teach out.”)
- If the student decides to seek a “closed school discharge,” please understand that under current law, he or she would not get back any of their GI Bill entitlement, and would not continue to receive their housing allowance.
- Also, be aware that most private loans cannot be forgiven (discharged), but the student should check the specific promissory note signed when taking out the loan.
Additional Resources for ITT Student Veterans:
- Call Student Veterans of America to get expert guidance specific to the student's circumstances: 202-223-4710, www.studentveterans.org.
- Veterans Education Success is keeping their website updated with current information: www.veteranseducationsuccess.org.
- Call the VA’s Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 (Monday-Friday, 7am to 6pm CST).
- I am working to prepare a briefing so offices have the resources they need to handle school closures like this in the future.
Contact: Carlos Paz Jr.