ITT Tech students graduate with futures unknown

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (WLS) -- After the sudden closing of all ITT Tech campuses nationwide Tuesday, students are left in limbo without degrees, certifications or even transcripts.

Nearly 40 nursing students at ITT Tech in Merrilville, Ind., had been looking forward to graduation, taking state board exams and eventually becoming nurses. Now they're unsure of what lies ahead.

"Today I think I'm just more focused on having a good time and celebrating in the moment, but eventually we will be, I will be worried about getting my transcripts," said Rachel Walker.

"It's a celebration with our families, a lot of us didn't get to spend a lot of time with our families, we have kids, and half the time we didn't really see our kids - we were at school or they were sleeping when we got home," said Maria Escalante.

At the Orland Park campus some students demanded a chance to finish what they started.

"I'm still somewhat in shock. It's like, I can't believe this is happening," said Rashanique Taylor.

"I don't know how I'm gonna pay those loans back. If I can't sit and take boards and elevate my career, how can I? And we're all in the same situation," said Monique Barlow.

The for-profit college school closed shop after a tremendous amount of federal student loan money attracted the attention of federal officials, who eventually ordered the school to stop accepting students with federal loans.

"We are all starting over, it's sad. I'm so disappointed and so disheartened," said Marianne Gray, former chair of the ITT Tech nursing program.

Orland Park staff were among 8,000 ITT employees terminated Tuesday. Thursday they were allowed to pick up their belongings, and told ABC7 Eyewitness News they did not receive severance and their insurance was canceled. But their biggest concern, they said, is their students.

"All the time and the blood and the sweat and the tears they put in to get their degree, and they get nothing. That's what really breaks my heart," said Jaqueline Fish, former adjunct professor.

In other cases where for-profit schools have closed, the U.S. Department of Education has stepped in to help students get some of their loan debt forgiven. Whether or not they will do the same for ITT Tech students isn't yet known.
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