HOUSTON (KHOU) - ITT Educational Services says it is permanently ceasing operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes, Houston locations included.
The company says the closures are due to an investigation and sanctions by the U.S. Department of Education.
"It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service," the company stated Tuesday. "Effective today, the company has eliminated the positions of the overwhelming majority of our more than 8,000 employees."
ITT Tech, known for its frequent daytime TV commercials, had three locations in Houston: on the north side, the west side and in Webster. At its west side location on Gessner, some students arrived Tuesday morning either unaware that the campus had closed or seeking answers to questions about their loans.
For students eligible for a loan discharge, they can contact their loan servicer for further information. Students can visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/ to view who manages their loan and see if they can request a loan discharge.
For students who wish to continue their studies, ITT Tech has this list online (PDF) that shows which institutions are similar to theirs and may accept their credits.
Last week the Associated Press reported the U.S. Department of Education banned the for-profit college chain from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid.
The company was the subject of state and federal investigations focusing on its recruiting and accounting practices.
Among the measures, ITT was been ordered to pay $152 million to the department within 30 days to cover student refunds and other liabilities in case the company closes. The chain, based in Indiana, is still paying another $44 million demanded by the department in June for the same reason.
The education department also has prohibited ITT from awarding its executives any pay raises or bonuses, and it must develop "teach-out" plans that would help current students finish their programs at other colleges if the chain shuts down.
Under the new measures, current students can continue receiving federal grants and loans.
Education Secretary John King said the government is taking action to protect students and taxpayers following "troubling" findings about the company. This month, a group that accredits ITT found that the chain failed to meet several basic standards and was unlikely to comply in the future.
"It simply would not be responsible or in the best interest of students to allow ITT to continue enrolling new students who rely on federal financial aid," King said during a telephone conference with reporters.