Massachusetts Sues ITT For Harassing And Misleading Students

Massachusetts is suing ITT for harassing and misleading students. According to a press release, which was published on April 4, ITT Educational Services, Inc. is accused of intentionally misleading students about the quality of their “Computer Network Systems” program. The school is further accused of misrepresenting the employment rate following graduation.

As stated in the press release, ITT recruited students via advertisements, phone calls, the internet, and in person. Although the methods do not seem unusual, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said recruiters simply went too far.

According to several former ITT recruiters, they were expected to meet unrealistic goals and were often “publicly shamed or fired” if they failed to meet specific quotas.

Consumerist reports the recruiters were essentially encouraged to harass prospective students. In addition to inundating them with e-mails and phone calls, the recruiters asked prospective students to refer family and friends — who then became recruitment targets.

The recruiters’ goal was to strongly encourage prospective students to visit a local campus — where they were reportedly pressured to enroll.

“Students were allegedly persuaded to visit a campus as soon as possible, where they were encouraged to apply, take an admissions exam, and complete a financial aid pre-appointment that same day. Admissions representatives pressured prospective students to enroll regardless of whether they were likely to succeed in the program.”

As stated on the ITT Technical Institute website, the school is “committed to offering quality undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education.” However, Massachusetts is suing ITT for failing to follow through.

According to reports, the school used obsolete materials and technology. Students also filed a startling number of complaints against instructors, who were unable or simply unwilling to teach the curriculum or answer students’ questions about what they were being taught.

Although ITT promised “80 percent to 100 percent of graduates obtained jobs in or related to their field of study,” Attorney General Maura Healey said the rates were closer to 50 percent. Healey said the school counted “any job that somehow involved the use of a computer,” which was intentionally misleading.

The school is further accused of encouraging students to seek financial aid from private lenders, who had extraordinarily high interest rates — and therefore an unusually high rate of default.

The Attorney General of Massachusetts’ decision to sue ITT comes amid an ongoing campaign to halt deceptive practices at for-profit schools throughout the state.

In addition to ITT, Massachusetts is suing the American Career Institute and Corinthian Colleges for deceiving and misleading students. The Attorney General’s Office also sued, and reached settlements with Kaplan Career Institute, Lincoln Tech, Salter College, and Sullivan & Cogliano for similar issues.

Although she is focusing on predatory for-profit schools, Attorney General Maura Healey also initiated lawsuits against student debt relief programs — which intentionally mislead students who are strapped with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

In response to being sued by Massachusetts, ITT issued a statement vehemently denying the accusation. In the news release, which was published on April 4, the school claims the Attorney General’s complaint is based “on a biased and selective portrayal of the facts.”

ITT Educational Services, Inc. accuses the Attorney General of perpetuating “Massachusetts’ woeful record of hostility toward career colleges that train non-traditional and underserved students,” which they contend is making a negative impact on the state’s underemployment and unemployment rates.

Although the school denies the accusation, Massachusetts is suing ITT for deceiving students and is seeking civil penalties, injunctive relief, and restitution “including the return of tuition and fees to eligible students… ” However, the lawsuit does not mention a specific amount of damages.

[Image via Andresr/Shutterstock]

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