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ITT students hitting roadblocks over credit transfers

TAMPA — Frustrated students say they are having little success transferring credits from the shuttered ITT Technical Institute to other schools, despite efforts by state colleges to lend a hand.

Meanwhile, ITT employees have filed lawsuits nationwide over their abrupt firings.

"Right now, we're left with nothing," said Marisol Martinez of Tampa, a nursing student at the now-defunct career school. "It's not fair. I've lost 21/2 years of my life. To get it snatched away with just 24 weeks to meet my goal is not fair for me or my fellow classmates."

Both Hillsborough Community College and St. Petersburg College said they were trying to help displaced ITT students, but because of accreditation differences, it is difficult. The colleges are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which also accredits the area's large universities. ITT Tech is overseen by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which itself is under the threat of a federal shutdown over credibility issues.

Joe Bentrovato, dean of student services at HCC's Dale Mabry campus, said course descriptions, faculty credentials and other factors must be considered when accepting another school's credits. "The unfortunate thing is the majority of these classes just don't transfer," he said, adding the school would not determine until next week how many, if any, students could slide over to HCC.

At SPC, a handful of students in technical programs are being considered for transfer. "Since they don't have transcripts yet, if they are able to provide us a copy of their grade reports, admissions is forwarding (the information) to the dean, who has the ITT catalog and course syllabi to make the determination if credits will transfer," said spokeswoman Marilyn Shaw.

An ITT Tech administrator in Tampa said Tuesday, the day the shutdown was announced, that personnel would be on campus Thursday and Friday to assist students. But doors remained locked this week at 4809 Memorial Highway, with instructions from ITT Tech's website on how to obtain records printed out and taped to doors.

The for-profit college chain is facing lawsuits from employees after its decision to shut down more than 130 campuses in 38 states. ITT announced this week that it could not survive recent sanctions by the U.S. Department of Education banning the school from enrolling new students paying tuition with federal financial aid.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.