AURORA | Community colleges across the state are banding together to help answer questions for recently spurned ITT Technical Institute students after the for-profit institution suddenly shuttered, Colorado Community College System officials said Sept. 8.

Composed of a consortium of about a dozen Colorado community colleges, the CCCS announced plans to hold five informational open houses throughout September for former ITT Tech students. Attendees will be able to get information on financial aid and admissions from academic officials from six metroplex community colleges, including Community College of Aurora.

“We know this is a difficult time and we are eager to help former ITT Tech students reach their full potential,” Nancy McCallin, president of CCCS, said in a statement. “CCCS is uniquely positioned to offer credit for prior learning, degree and certificate completion, and access to affordable, high quality education at all of our campuses across the state.”

CCA will hold two of the open houses Sept. 21, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, according to a release.

“The (CCCS) system office facilitated a discussion (Sept. 8) with all of the metro colleges because a number of them were getting students from ITT Tech coming in and asking about being able to enroll,” said Janet Brandau, vice president of academic affairs at CCA.

Brandau said that she had not heard of an influx of former ITT Tech students requesting information from CCA, but that Front Range Community College in Westminster had seen increased interest.

ITT Tech, which has existed under the purview of ITT Educational Services Inc. for more than 50 years, announced on Sept. 6 plans to shutter all 136 of its campuses in 38 states.

The school had a pair of campuses in Colorado: One in Aurora and another in Westminster. The Colorado Department of Higher Education estimated that about 260 Colorado students at the two locations were affected by the closure.

ITT Tech’s demise began in April, when the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education regarding several concerns with ITT’s financial and ethical integrity, according to the Department of Education. That initial notice set off a series of increasingly painful headaches for the for-profit school that were primarily tied to the Department of Education asking for more collateral. The Department first asked for an extra $44 million in surety from the school, a number that ballooned to about $153 million by the end of the summer, according to an Aug. 25 letter from the Department of Education’s Financial Aid Division to ITT CEO Kevin Modany.

ITT paid an initial $14 million to the Department of Education, but was unable to pay the remainder, according to the Department of Education.

“This action of our federal regulator to increase our surety requirement to 40 percent of our Title IV federal funding and place our schools under ‘Heightened Cash Monitoring Level 2,’ forced us to conclude that we can no longer continue to operate our ITT Tech campuses and provide our students with the quality education they expect and deserve,” the school wrote in a Sept. 6 statement.

The Department of Education also imposed sanctions that barred the school from enrolling students who receive federal financial aid.

Former ITT students could be eligible to have some of their student loans forgiven, according to both the school and the Department of Education.

Brandau said she was unsure how the recent fall of ITT Tech could impact the public perception of community colleges and trade schools.

“I quite honestly don’t know yet,” she said. “What we do know of the schools in our area that are proprietary is that they seek to fill a need for students, and that is a need to find an avenue to get an education in a shorter time period. These institutions are not necessarily bound to semesters like we are, they’re not bound to a certain number of hours per certificate like we are … and that’s part of the problem.”

A spokesperson for ITT Tech did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.

A full list of the open houses hosted by CCCS can be found below.

Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 17

Front Range Community College – Westminster Campus Rotunda
3645 W 112th Ave, Westminster, CO 80031

6 to 8 p.m. Monday, September 19

Front Range Community College – Westminster Campus Rocky Mountain Room
3645 W 112th Ave, Westminster, CO 80031

6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 20 (webinar)

Colorado Community Colleges Online

Noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, September 21

Community College of Aurora – Lowry Campus West Quad Room 112
710 Alton Way, Denver, CO 80230

6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 21

Community College of Aurora – Lowry Campus West Quad Room 112
710 Alton Way, Denver, CO 80230

Contact Kate Barnes with CCCS at 303-620-4000 or for more information.