TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The decision seemingly came out of nowhere. ITT Technical Institutes announced Tuesday that it will be closing all of its academic locations around the country, including its Tampa campus at 4809 Memorial Highway.
ITT Tech is known for its television ads and has been in existence for 50 years.
The company attributes the closures to sanctions and an investigation 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. With what we believe is a complete disregard by the U.S. Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected,” school officials said.
The closures are effective immediately.
Elyanne Gonzalez is one of the students impacted by the closure.
From a young age, Gonzalez grew up knowing that she wanted to help people.
“I’ve been told that I have healing hands,” the soft-spoken student says with a smile. “It feels good to know that I can help people.”
As a little girl growing up in Cuba, she knew her success story would come to life one day. Indeed, her parents made that lifelong dream a reality when their family moved to the United States. In fact, the 21-year-old thought she had found a home at ITT Technical Institute in Tampa. “You want to make a better life for yourself, reach that goal,” she told WFLA. “It’s hard when someone takes it away from you like that.”
The tears begin to fall as Elyanne shares her story of heartbreak after two long years of hard work. Her parents have worked two jobs to help pay for her education while she attended nursing school at ITT Tech. The student, herself, even took a part-time job to support her mom and dad. Now, she feels lost hearing this latest news that her campus, along with 137 all over the country, is now closed. Her dream has quickly become a nightmare just as she approached the finish line.
Elyanne doesn’t have the heart to tell her parents the awful news. “I haven’t told him the story completely because they’re working, and it would stress them out. But I know it’s going to be hard,” she explained, as she lowered her head and wiped away tears.
This young student wants answers, like so many others all over the country.
She’s tried to find them on the ITT Tech website, but she gets the runaround.
8 on Your Side searched for answers, as well. We reached out to ITT Tech numerous times Tuesday, calling multiple numbers, over and over again, to no avail. Now that Elyanne is at the end of her nursing education, she just wants her transcripts and wants to be able to move on in achieving her goal.
Even the staff and teachers at ITT Tech in Tampa were in tears Tuesday morning as they carried boxes out to their cars. Director of Career Services, Doug Strickland, broke down as he talked about the campuses closing nationwide and here at home.
“I love my job. I look forward to it every day. I have a family to support, and it’s a tough time. It’s tough for the students, tough for everybody here,” he said in a quivering voice. “It’s just what it is. I loved helping the students. I hope to keep doing that in some way.”
Another student who showed up to campus Tuesday morning says he is “devastated.”
The nationwide technical Institute blames financial problems for the closing of all of its campuses, citing a lack of sufficient funds in the corporate reserves.
But, for Elyanne, that’s not good enough. Her dream can’t end here, she told us. She knows she will continue and will go on and her pursuit of becoming a healer. However, for now, the tears come and go as she plots out a new path to success. “Just let us finish. Whatever reason they had for closing, let the students have their careers and finish,” she told us.
Good news came late Tuesday afternoon in the midst of this heartache.
It turns out – all hope is not lost with the future of ITT Tech students in Tampa.
Hillsborough Community College has stepped in to help out, offering assistance to the students affected by the closures.
“This closure is particularly unfortunate because it affect students, faculty and staff that through no fault of their own,” according to HCC President Dr. Ken Atwater. “HCC stands ready to assist them and ensure that they can move quickly into a program that leads to a marketable credential.”
According to HCC, a team is in place to help with everything from advising, financial aid, transcript evaluation, counseling and other support services.
The team will be available Monday through Tuesday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m. For more information call (813) 253-7295.
Watch News Channel 8 tonight at 5:30 to learn more about the school’s closing.
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