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ITT Tech students refuse to repay loans

| Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, 10:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Former students at ITT Technical Institutes are refusing to repay their federal student loans in a protest designed to pressure the government into canceling the debt of everyone who alleges they were defrauded by the now-defunct for-profit chain.

In the week since ITT Tech shut its doors, the Department of Education has encouraged students affected by the closure to weigh their options for transferring their credits or applying for loan forgiveness. While education officials say students attending a school that closes stand the best chance of having their loans canceled, there is no guarantee. And the odds are far worse for people seeking forgiveness on the grounds of fraud, despite laws meant to help them.

Of the more than 26,000 claims received by the Department of Education by the end of June, only about 14 percent have been approved.

Now people who long graduated from or dropped out of ITT Tech with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans are asking for an easier path to relief.

“We're not irresponsible brats whining about our loans,” said Joseph White, 39, who graduated from ITT Tech in 2008 with more than $80,000 in student loans. “ITT lied to us. It's fraud.”

White is one of 100 protesters waging a “debt strike” to bring attention to the plight of students they say were scammed by ITT Tech. The school closed weeks after education officials curtailed its access to federal loans and grants, but ITT spent years battling allegations of fraud, deceptive marketing and steering students into predatory loans. Parent company ITT Educational Services is being investigated by more than a dozen state attorneys general and is facing lawsuits from two federal agencies.

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