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Were you an ITT Tech student? Whatcom County colleges taking transfers for fall

Students walk across the Bellingham Technical College campus, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Bellingham. The college is taking transfer students from ITT Technical Institute, which closed earlier this month amid sanctions by the U.S. Department of Education.
Students walk across the Bellingham Technical College campus, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Bellingham. The college is taking transfer students from ITT Technical Institute, which closed earlier this month amid sanctions by the U.S. Department of Education. pdwyer@bellinghamherald.com

Whatcom County colleges are looking to lend hands to students who have been displaced amid ITT Technical Institute’s closure.

ITT Educational Services, the national for-profit college chain’s parent company, closed all 130 campuses last week. The closure came after increasing sanctions from the U.S. Department of Education, which, in late August, banned ITT from enrolling anymore students using federal financial aid.

The college’s Everett campus was the closest to Whatcom County, about 70 miles south of Bellingham. Still, Bellingham Technical College had heard from eight ITT students as of Tuesday afternoon who were interested in more information about transferring, said Linda Fossen, BTC’s vice president of student services.

With BTC’s fall quarter just around the corner – classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 20 – time is precious for students who may want to transfer, Fossen said. Those interested in transferring to BTC can contact the college at 360-752-8433, or visit the BTC website at btc.edu.

This was a very difficult situation that was thrust onto (ITT students) at the last minute through no fault of their own. So we want to do everything we can to assist them.

Linda Fossen, Bellingham Technical College’s vice president of student services

“We encourage students to apply and be admitted and registered much earlier, but we understand ITT students had this unfortunate circumstance of being surprised really at the 11:30 hour just before school starts,” Fossen said. “So we’re working very hard to provide support for these students.”

Whatcom Community College spokeswoman Mary Vermillion said the college hadn’t heard from ITT students interested in transferring. Still, she said WCC has some programs that overlapped with offerings at ITT’s Everett campus, including computer systems networking, criminal justice and general design and visual communications. Students interested in considering transfers to that college can contact WCC’s advising office at 360-383-3080 or advise@whatcom.ctc.edu.

Classes there also begin on Sept. 20.

ITT was nationally accredited by a private accreditation council, while BTC is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. This means that colleges like BTC and WCC will only accept certain credits from ITT, officials at both colleges said.

At BTC, there is no catch-all method for determining which ITT credits will transfer and which won’t, Fossen said. The best way for a prospective transfer to know just which credits will be compatible is to meet with an adviser.

“We can’t say that one size is going to fit all with this,” said Frank Powers, vice president for instruction at BTC. “It’s going to be on a student-by-student basis.”

Dave Knapp, associate director for advising and career services at WCC, said the same is the case there.

Though credits may not transfer, a student’s time at ITT may not be a complete wash, he added. Advisers will work to determine what students have learned and try to apply that toward a program in other ways, Knapp said. Doing so would still come at a price, but maybe not the time in class, he added.

“We really want to try to not make them repeat more class time than they really need,” Knapp said. “We don’t want people to feel like they’re repeating stuff just for the sake of repeating it.”

Students interested in transferring will need an official or unofficial transcript. ITT has partnered with Parchment, a digital credential service, to manage transcript requests. Find information about transcript requests at parchment.com/itt.

Advisers can then guide students through the admission process, help them determine which classes they will take and discuss financial aid options.

The Department of Education is also forgiving federal loans for ITT students, according to the department’s website, but conditions are different for each student, and loans can’t be forgiven if they’re used to transfer to another college. Find information about financial aid at studentaid.ed.gov/itt.

“This was a very difficult situation that was thrust onto (ITT students) at the last minute through no fault of their own,” Fossen said. “So we want to do everything we can to assist them.”

This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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