A local Iraq War veteran is among more than 6,800 GI beneficiaries who enrolled at ITT Technical Institute -- only to be out of education when the school system abruptly shut down.
And Ted Lindley, along with the thousands of others, are wondering what to do next and are unsure whether other schools will accept their college credits.
Ted Lindley served in the US Marine Corps for seven years. He was first deployed to Iraq in 2004, and again in 2005. It was during his last stint, when he received a Purple Heart during a convoy operation.
“I was inside the vehicle. I took shrapnel to the side of the head in my left temple,” Ted told NBC 7.
Ted still has consistent headaches and a chronic numbness in his hand from his injury.
When Ted came home in 2005 he wanted to start a new life for his family. He first enrolled at Palomar College, but found the class schedule to be inconvenient and confusing. Then he met a recruiter at ITT Technical Institute and decided to enroll there because the school made the process easy and simple, he said.
“There was never a question of what course am I taking next, what class am I going to take next, what do I have to do to pay for this,” Ted said.
Ted estimates about 70 percent of his classmates were either active duty or former military members. He said ITT Tech classes were available at night and that appealed to him and his classmates.
For the first three-and-a-half years, things at ITT Tech were going well for Ted. He graduated with an associates degree with honors and began working on his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
“He would stay up at night and do his homework all night long, so he wouldn’t have to miss the time he had with us,” Ted’s wife Tammy said.
That’s why the news of ITT Tech shutting down was so devastating for the Lindley family. After more than three years of studying, and just three semesters shy of graduating with a degree, Ted may have to retake most, if not all of his courses, because ITT Tech was not a regionally accredited school.
“I’m just defeated, discouraged, scared what our future is going to be,” Tammy said.
NBC7 reached out to several schools on Monday to find out which schools will accept ITT credits.
Coleman University told NBC 7 they will accept some credits from ITT students, but not all. Cal State San Marcos will not accept any ITT credits, saying ITT Tech was not a regionally accredited school. The San Diego Community Colleges may offer students the chance to test out of courses and receive credits, but they haven’t finalized a method yet.
Congressman Scott Peters has agreed to cosponsor the Education Recovery and Restoration Act (HR 3991) which would:
1. Restore entitlement for individuals who pursued a program of education with VA educational assistance and failed to receive credit, or lost training time, toward completion of the individual’s educational, professional, or vocational objective as a result of the closure of their educational institution.
2. Continue monthly educational assistance payments, including monthly housing allowance, through the end of the term, quarter, or semester in which the school closes, or for up to four months from the date of the school closure.
Rep. Peters is hoping to see this legislation move, but in the meantime veterans can reach out to resources through the VA and the Department of Education to determine the best options for them moving forward, including transferring and getting their federal student loans discharged if they have any.
NBC7 also reached out to the VA. Here is their response: We regret the sudden inconvenience and disruption of studies for the more than 6,800 GI Bill beneficiaries recently identified as pursuing programs at ITT Technical Institute or planning to embark on studies there. VA has resources available to help such students relocate their academic pursuits, including VA’s Comparison Tool and its web page providing a Choosing a School guide. Students with concerns about the status of their benefits can consult with VA staff at VA’s education toll-free line, 888-442-4551.
Additional information for students, as available, will be posted here.