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ITT Today, Christian Colleges Tomorrow?

The Wall Street Journal reports that ITT Technical Institute, which has 130 campuses nationwide, ceased operations today after the federal government cut off student loan aid. The feds lost confidence in the school’s ability to provide a quality education to its students. Excerpt:

Shutting off the spigot of federal student-aid dollars has devastated other schools. MedTech College, offering entry-level programs in medical assisting and nursing at a handful of locations, closed this summer after the government cut off student-aid funds, while the Marinello Schools of Beauty closed more than 50 campuses earlier this year once its flow of funds dried up.

ITT Tech, among the nation’s largest for-profit college chains by revenue, had been facing accusations from its accreditor of chronic financial mismanagement and questionable recruiting tactics. It is also under investigation by more than a dozen state and federal authorities, including the Massachusetts attorney general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Why does this matter to religious conservatives? Because it shows how access to federal student loan aid is the lifeblood of many colleges. ITT went down the drain because the federal government thought it was a lousy operation. In the future, the federal government may well cut off student loan aid to students attending Christian colleges that observe traditional teaching on sexuality, especially homosexuality — this, on the grounds that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t fund “bigotry.”

The reader who sent me the Journal piece adds:

I’m totally fine with the feds cutting off federal student aid to the school. From what I’ve heard, schools like this and many other for-profits are terrible. That said, I fear this is the trap many traditional institutions are going to fall into. If the fed doesn’t like the way you do things, goodbye privileges. Again, I don’t have a problem with the federal government acting this way—it’s a democratic republic and public morals change. Religions need to be independent of state funding. More importantly, pastors and parachurch organizations who enjoy non-profit status today need to remember, this could be them if they too become too reliant on federal aid.

I have a problem with the state doing this in our pluralistic nation, but too many liberals today are on a mission from a God in whom they do not believe to stamp out evil. If that means some poor Latino kid is not going to be able to borrow money from the government to go to a small Christian school, well, sucks to be that poor Latino kid, because every tree in the Republic must be cut down to get to the devil of anti-LGBT bigotry.

Point is, what happened to ITT today could easily happen to academically reputable Christian institutions tomorrow — and will. I think by now we all understand that the Law of Merited Impossibility is the best tool for interpreting what’s being said today, and what’s going to happen tomorrow.

UPDATE: I don’t understand why some of you commenters think I’m defending ITT here. I’m not. I have not been following the stories of ITT’s travails, but if they are offering a terrible product, then the government is right to withhold federal student loans from them. It would be irresponsible not to. I only bring up the ITT example to show how critically important the federal student loan spigot is to the survival of many colleges and universities. This was why the recently defeated California bill to prevent state grants from going to “bigot” Christian schools that didn’t embrace LGBT progressivism was an existential threat to a number of religious colleges there. The point of this post is to highlight where progressives are going to attack orthodox Christian institutions next.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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