ITT Educational Services is facing new restrictions on its financial aid funding from the Department of Education.
The Department sent a letter to ITT’s chief executive, Kevin Modany, on Monday, outlining tightened financial controls on the company. The new restrictions are a response to ITT’s “failure” to meet its “fiduciary obligations” to the Department since the 2009 to 2010 financial aid award year, Michael Frola, the director of the Department’s multi-regional and foreign school participation division, wrote in the letter.
Under the new restrictions for ITT ESI, -5.21% it will be required to prove to the Department that a student actually began attending classes before the company can disperse the aid to the student. Typically, schools are allowed to disburse financial aid up to 10 days before the first day of classes. The company will also face additional reporting requirements on its enrollment and disbursement of financial aid.
Since the 2009 to 2010 financial aid award year, ITT has struggled to reconcile the amount of financial aid money it pulled from the Department with the charges students actually incurred, according to the Department’s letter. The discrepancy could be an indication that a large number of students withdrew from the school after ITT had already tapped the financial aid dollars dedicated to the students, said Elizabeth Baylor, the director of post-secondary education at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
When Baylor worked as a staffer on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, she said her team found that of ITT students who enrolled during the 2008 to 2009 academic year, 52% had withdrawn one year later. The average withdrawal rate for students at for-profit colleges was 54.5% that year. ITT was “falling down on its fiscal responsibility” because it was unable to even identify how quickly its own students were withdrawing, Baylor said. “That in and of itself is a huge cause for concern.”