CHICAGO (CBS) — Some former students of the now-closed ITT Technical Institutes took part in what they called a “debt strike” on Wednesday, saying they won’t make any more payments on their federal student loans.
The former students were being organized by a group called the Debt Collective, and they joined former students from Corinthian Colleges, another for-profit school that closed last year.
The students blamed the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Education for failing to protect them.
ITT’s Indiana-based parent company announced the college chain’s shutdown last week, after it was banned from enrolling new students who used financial aid, because the Department of Education determined it had become a risk to students and taxpayers. ITT also was ordered to pay more than $150 million within 30 days to cover student refunds if the colleges closed.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said last week ITT students owe the federal government a bundle for their student loans.
“According to a recent study, ITT Tech students cumulatively owe the federal government $4.6 billion,” he said.
The senator said more than half of those students default on their loans, and he said for-profit schools charge too much in tuition.
“Ten percent of the students coming out of high school go to for-profit schools. Twenty percent of the federal aid to education goes to these schools; almost $27 billion a year. Why? Because they overcharge the kids,” he said.
The striking students want their debt forgiven, which is allowed under the law, but they also must give up any college credits they earned. Durbin said those credits often aren’t worth much anyway, because they often don’t transfer to other institutions.