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National Education Pays Off $21.6-Million Debt : Finance: The vocational training firm is benefiting from reorganization and a rise in enrollment due to the recession.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a sign of improving financial health, National Education Corp. said Monday that it paid off $21.6 million in bank loans about 18 months ahead of schedule.

The nation’s largest vocational and industrial training and education company, which has been reorganizing for more than a year, is benefiting from a surge in fourth-quarter enrollments and cost-cutting measures, said Jerry Cwiertnia,president and chief executive. Thishas improved the company’s cash flow, he said.

“It’s a combination of revenue growth and reduced expenses,” he said. “We’ve had double-digit revenue growth (due to) demand for our textbooks and increased enrollment in our home-study programs.”

Trade schools normally benefit from an economic downturn as unemployed workers enroll to learn new skills and employed persons try to strengthen their positions in a company by seeking additional skills.

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Cwiertnia said enrollment for the company’s high-school equivalency programs has been strong and sales of English grammar books for non-English speakers have also been brisk. He is projecting the company’s 1991 revenue to reach $371 million, up $15 million from 1990.

The company started to reorganize after losing $29.5 million in 1989 and $14.9 million last year. For the first nine months of 1991, the company lost $3.6 million, compared to a loss of $16.1 million in the first three quarters of 1990.

National Education still owes $77 million in bond debt and about $3.2 million related to mortgage and acquisition debts, Cwiertnia said.

The company’s four businesses are: National Education Centers, a vocational school; International Correspondence Schools, which provides home study programs; Steck-Vaughn Co., a textbook publishing concern; and National Education Training Group, which offers industrial training programs.

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