WyoTech, formerly known as Wyoming Technical Institute, is a system of US non profit colleges founded in Laramie, Wyoming in 1966 and currently owned by Zenith Education Group. Zenith Education is a division of Educational Credit Management Corporation, a student loan debt collector.
At its peak in the early 2000s, WyoTech had seven campuses offering degree and diploma programs in the fields of automotive, diesel, collision refinishing, motorcycle, marine technology, as well as construction trades. WyoTech also offered advanced training programs in applied service management; light duty diesel; advanced automotive diagnostics; street rod and custom fabrication; motorsports chassis fabrication; high performance power trains; and trim and upholstery technology.
Wyoming Technical Institute, Wyotech, was founded in 1966 as an automotive-themed school, offering programs in automotive repair. The first class in Laramie had 22 students, and its classes were housed in a 9000 square foot building.
In 1969, WyoTech’s Laramie campus became accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, (ACCSC), formerly known as NATTS.
Purchase and rapid growthEdit
Corinthian Colleges purchased Wyo-tech Acquisition Corporation on July 1, 2002 for $84.4 million in cash, which was 9.5 times EBITDA. At that point there were two Wyotech campuses: in Laramie, Wyoming and a facility being constructed in Blairsville, Pennsylvania. The cohort default rate for Wyotech was 7.2 in 1998 and 5.0% in 1999.
Corinthian College's rationale for the relatively high purchase and swift expansion was based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts for a high demand for automotive technicians and a significant turnover of workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasted a 16.7% increase in auto technicians, from 790,000 in 1998 to approximately 922,000 by 2008. WyoTech became part of Titan Schools, Inc., Corinthian College's technical division. Titan Schools offered degree and diploma programs in aeronautical maintenance, heating/ventilation/air conditioning and plumbing technology as well as the automotive and diesel programs.
In December 2003, The Blairsville campus moved into expanded facilities at 500 Innovation Drive, which was considered a boon for the rural working-class Pennsylvania town. The Laramie campus also added a 75,000-square-foot building in 2003.
In a January 2003, Corinthian Colleges earnings call, Wyotech was called a "tremendous acquisition" and it was reported that 600,000 square feet of space were added to Wyotech. In October of the same year, Corinthian Colleges CFO Dennis Beal stated that WyoTech was using high school recruiters nationwide "to sell everything from aviation maintenance, HVAC programs and things of that nature in addition to their auto and diesel repair."
In January 2004, Corinthian Colleges reported that the Blairsville campus was projected to break even in the next 12–18 months. In February 2004, Senator Rick Santorum visited the Blairsville Wyotech, stating that "the expansion is good news for Indiana County....Training centers like this offer students a competitive advantage when entering the workforce." When completed, the Blairsville Wyotech campus was expected to encompass 250,000 square feet.
By August 2004, Wyotech had seven sites, adding campuses in Boston (August 2003), Fremont, California (August 2003), Sacramento (January 2004), Oakland (March 2004), and Daytona Beach (August 2004). The Daytona campus offered programs to prepare students for jobs as motorcycle, marine, and personal watercraft technicians.
In 2004, more than 30 Laramie, Wyoming WyoTech students, teachers and alums were featured on The Learning Channel's new Overhaulin' series. The '56 Chevy that they redesigned was showcased in various venues by WyoTech and the WTI Foundation to "increase awareness of the foundation's efforts to provide scholarship funding to deserving students."
Also in 2004, investment firm W. P. Carey & Co. provided Corinthian Colleges approximately $52 million to construct of two new student housing facilities: a 156-apartment facility in Laramie for 624 students and a 164-apartment facility in Blairsville for 648 students.
In 2006, on the PR Newswire, WyoTech boasted of having seven schools nationwide, with more than 6,000 students. Courses in diesel technology began in 2006 and the Blairsville campus added light duty diesel and high-performance power trains advanced courses in 2007. WyoTech also formed a partnership with Summit Racing Equipment, the world's largest direct marketer of high performance automotive parts.
By late 2006, Corinthian Colleges reported that they had a team of more than 100 WyoTech admissions representatives and that each WyoTech student generated "monthly revenue 2-3 times higher than the monthly revenue generated by a typical Diploma or Associate Degree student." The same September report noted "some erosion in start growth." The Pittsburgh Tribune Review also reported that the Blairsville community had mixed reviews about the growth of the school and its perceived effects on the community. Some felt fortunate for the positive economic effects. Others blamed a surge in vandalism, underage drinking, traffic violations and petty theft on this growth.
Wyotech downsizing and Corinthian Colleges failureEdit
In January 2007, Corinthian Colleges reported that WyoTech's "show rate" (the percentage of students who enroll and then show up for class) had fallen well below historic levels. In the same report, Corinthian Colleges stated that they had "come to understand that the challenges in that business are deeper than previously anticipated." In response, Corinthian Colleges hired Frank Stryjewski as division president of Wyotech. Mr. Stryjewski had previously served as senior vice president operations for Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corporation.
In 2007 and 2008 Wyotech divested from its Boston and Oakland campuses, which offered aviation maintenance. The Boston campus was sold in 2008 and the Oakland campus was expected to be sold in 2009. In March 2009, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported that six students at Wyotech, Blairsville were arrested for reckless driving at a speed of 99 miles per hour, 44 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. In 2010, a Blairsville student was charged with stabbing another student.
In September 2010, Wyotech stopped enrolling students without a high school diploma or its equivalent, to reduce student loan defaults. However, this also reduced enrollment.
In 2011, WyoTech reported that its schools had some of the highest graduation rates of any two-year schools in the United States. WyoTech Blairsville had a graduation rate of 85.1 percent, and WyoTech Laramie a graduation rate of 80.1 percent. However, Wyotech's student loan default rates had risen to 16.8% at the Blairsville campus and 17.2% at the Laramie campus. A 2011 report by California Watch found that student loan default rates in 2009 were an alarming 27.4% at Long Beach and 24.6% in Fremont.
In its 2011 investigation and 2012 report, The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions also highlighted Corinthian Colleges, Wyotech's parent company, as a predatory corporation that misled students about costs and gainful employment. In HELP documents, the committee noted that the Long Beach Wyotech had a student loan default rate of 36.6%.
From July 2011 to July 2014, Corinthian Colleges loaned students funds with its high interest in-house Genesis Loans.
In 2012, Wyotech divested from its campuses in Sacramento and Daytona Beach. It also reported that its trademarks had been impaired by regulatory uncertainties surrounding gainful employment. In 2013, WyoTech partnered with Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks to create a curriculum for the new Diesel Advanced Technology Education for Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks. However, WyoTech schools faced layoffs and site closings as Corinthian Colleges, its parent company, received greater government scrutiny for its questionable business and trading practices. One of the major criticisms of Wyotech and other for-profit colleges was that tuition was typically 300% to 400% more expensive than programs at community colleges, which triggered higher student loan default rates. Due to a lack of acceptable offers to buy the Daytona Beach campus, Wyotech continued operations there.
In a 2014 expose, The Center for Investigative Reporting found that three of Wyotechs' California campuses received more than $32 million in GI Bill funds during a 5-year span. Wyotech was labeled as a subprime college because its parent company, Corinthian Colleges, had used false and misleading advertising to recruit students.
On April 27, 2015, closed its three WyoTech campuses in California, leaving the campuses in Laramie, Blairsville, and Daytona Beach remaining. A report by the US Department of Education found that Wyotech's placement rates in California were 2% to 14% below what Wyotech had claimed.
WyoTech is nationally accredited but not regionally accredited. Most public and private universities are regionally accredited and do not accept credits or degrees from WyoTech for transfer.
WyoTech campuses are located in Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Florida. The Corinthian-owned California campuses have all closed. Sacramento was closed in 2013 and Fremont and Long Beach campuses were closed in 2015.
Fields of studyEdit
WyoTech degrees are completed in nine months, six months of a Core classes and then three months of a Elective program. Not all programs of study were available at every campus.
Core Classes - Diplomas and Certificates were available in the following subjects:
- Automotive-Diesel Combination
- Automotive Technology
- Collision & Refinishing
- Diesel Technology
- Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- Marine Technology
- Motorcycle Technology
Electives - Specialty courses offered to students who complete Core Classes:
- Advanced Automotive Diagnostics
- Applied Service Management, or ASM, was the only class offered by WyoTech that results in an Associate's Degree when combined with an eligible core class
- Diesel Advanced Technology Education (DATE) for Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks
- Chassis Fabrication
- High Performance Powertrain
- Light-Duty Diesel
- Motorsport Chassis Fabrication
- Off-Road Power
- Street Rod & Custom Fabrication
- Trim & Upholstery Technology
Motorcycle & Marine Electives
- Advanced Marine
- Applied Service Management, or ASM, was the only class offered by WyoTech that results in an associate degree when combined with an eligible core class
- Asian Motorcycles
- European Motorcycles
- Harley Davidson Motorcycles
- Off-Road Power
In 2008, nine former WyoTech students who took heating and air-conditioning classes in Fremont claimed they had taken out student loans for as much as $40,000 each, but their training did not make them employable. According to the suit, instructors sometimes appeared to be drunk, fell asleep in class and could not answer basic questions, and equipment was outdated.
In 2013, WyoTech's parent company at the time, Corinthian Colleges, was sued by the state of California for "false and predatory advertising, intentional misrepresentations to students, securities fraud and unlawful use of military seals in advertisements." and there are numerous other actions filed against Corinthian in various U.S. states as well as United States agencies.
In July 2014, Corinthian Colleges agreed they would close or sell all their schools in the next few months. The U.S. Department of Education announced former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a well known corruption buster, would monitor the sale and closure of for-profit career colleges owned by the failing Corinthian Colleges.
On February 3, 2015, Corinthian sold 53 of its Everest and WyoTech campuses and online programs to the Zenith Education Group, a new subsidiary of the ECMC Group.
Debt cancellation and student debt reliefEdit
On June 8, 2015, the US Department of Education announced that it was developing a process that would allow former students of Corinthian schools to apply for debt relief, if they believed they were victims of fraud. While the Department has still not created a formal process, they have provided the outlines of what borrowers should submit if they wish to pursue debt cancellation on the Federal Student Aid website. In addition, the advocacy group the Debt Collective has created its own, unofficial "Defense to Repayment App" that allows former students of Corinthian and other schools accused of fraud to pursue debt cancellation. The applications generated through the Debt Collective's online form was cited by the Department of Education in a Federal Register notice, which said that "a need for a clearer process for potential claimants" arose due to the submission of over 1000 defense to repayment claims by "a building debt activism movement."
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