Sandra Watson – Sebastian, Florida

By going to ITT Tech, I worked hard to better myself and my situation only to find out that it was for nothing. ITT took advantage of my class background for their profit. I was knowingly pushed into loans that I would never be able to repay. It’s time for the Department of Education to step up and do the right thing.

In December 2005 I relocated to Arkansas from Florida after losing everything, determined to have a better life. I had no one to guide me or tell me what to expect. My parents and siblings had all worked low-wage jobs their whole lives. I was about to be the first college student in the family, but I was completely on my own and clueless.

With my limited knowledge I set out to contact as many local colleges as possible. When I met with a recruiter, she described the benefits of choosing ITT Tech, all of which I later found to be untrue. Once it came time to discuss tuition they made sure to focus on the Pell Grants and they made it sound like repaying loans would be no big deal given my employment prospects. They never explained that a large portion of my loans would be private loans with high interest rates of 14.75%.

Within a few minutes they had whisked me away and had me sign paper after paper. I started to become hesitant and it was at that point my recruiter began to push harder. She used my personal history against me. She lectured me about how I was older than the traditional college student and insisted that I needed to jump on this opportunity now if I ever wanted to amount to someone who could provide for my family. She stated that it was extremely hard to make it through life with a lower class job like my parents and that this may be my one and only chance to get out of the impoverished life I had become accustomed to. This literally broke my spirit. I didn’t want a life like my parents’. I wanted to become someone they would be proud of; so I signed.

The classes were nothing like what I had imagined. After the introductory session, the hands-on education began to dwindle down to almost nothing. Lab time was a joke. Machines were outdated, and many of the books we were required to purchase we never even cracked open. Most of the professors did not take their job seriously.

By the time I realized that I was not receiving a proper education I had spent a full year at ITT Tech. I began looking into other schools only to find out that none of them would accept the credits that I had already earned. I did not want to lose the work that I had already earned so I stayed. I stayed under the assumption that after I had completed this degree that I would be able to continue my education with a Masters at another school.

When I tried to continue my education at the University of Arkansas of Little Rock (UALR) I was told by one of the instructors and department chairs of UALR that my degree would not be accepted. He also taught at ITT. I began to research other schools only to find the same.

Thanks to ITT Tech’s corrupt and predatory practices I hold a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that I cannot use. I have been turned away and literally laughed at because potential employers. I currently owe approximately $99,000. I am unable to pay. My payments amount to over $800 a month, more than the mortgage on the home that had been foreclosed on. Unfortunately my story resembles so many others. ITT Tech has made a practice of destroying lives for profit and has been doing so for decades.

As defrauded students we deserve a fresh start; a chance at a better life. Providing a full discharge across the board of our student loans would give us that opportunity. Allowing us to continue drowning in our current debt sentence while predatory for-profit schools get away with their actions would be a depraved and immoral inaction by the Department of Education.