Former students from ITT Tech have declared a debt strike of their federal student loans. More than 700 students (and counting) have announced that they were lied to and defrauded. They are joining together with other for-profit college students to demand a discharge of their debts from the Department of Education, which has the authority to cancel student loans.
ITT Tech stopped enrolling new students earlier this month and declared bankruptcy soon afterwards. Hundreds of thousands of students are left in limbo with large debt loads and worthless degrees. (Though colleges can declare bankcrupty, it's nearly impossible for students to get their debts discharged in bankrupcty.)
In a letter to President Obama and Secretary King, the strikers explained that they would not repay their federal loans. "By striking our debts," the strikers wrote, "we begin to collect on your obligation to erase them."
ITT strikers also acknowledged the influence of the Corinthian students who launched their own strike last year and forced the Department of Education to acknowledge it has the authority to cancel debts.
The strike has been covered in major media outlets. Bloomberg News broke the story, reporting that the issue "threatens to become yet another headache for the Obama administration" which has been ignoring Corinthian students' calls for debt relief for almost two years. Bloomberg quoted striker Joseph White who said that he had been lured in by ITT's promise of a six-figure income.
The Washington Post also covered the story. The reporter noted that ITT Tech has been investigated by multiple state and federal agencies and was sued by the SEC and the CFPB. Though the company's crimes go back years, the Department of Education has been slow to step in and do its job as a regulator. Striker Alyse Zachary took the Department to task for its slow response. "If you found a school was defrauding its students, why would you protect that school and not the students? That’s backwards logic,” she said.
The strikers have promised to follow up their strike with more actions in the weeks and months to come. Students from other for-profit colleges are watching the Corinthian and ITT strikes closely. More and more, borrowers from colleges of all kinds are recognizing that their struggles are similar and that they are stronger when they fight back together.