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Brown Mackie College in Kentucky stops accepting students as EDMC moves to close campus

| Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, 11:09 p.m.

Education Management Corp. took the first step toward closing a Brown Mackie college in Kentucky, as the troubled operator of for-profit colleges battles declining enrollment.

The Northern Kentucky campus, several miles south of Cincinnati, stopped accepting new students Friday, according to a Jan. 9 email sent to students from campus director Melissa McMahon. The campus joins another Brown Mackie college in Michigan City, Ind., slated for closure as the financially troubled Downtown-based company cuts costs.

“This change is driven by a variety of factors, including changes in demand for certain programs within our student populations and the marketplace,” EDMC spokesman Chris Hardman wrote in an email.

The school will remain open until its 250 students finish their programs or transfer to another campus, a requirement of federal law under Title IV, the primary source of federal student financial aid.

Brown Mackie specializes in associate degree and non-degree vocational training for criminal justice, business and health care-related fields.

Demand for vocational programs has waned as students question the value of paying tens of thousands of dollars for an education that will provide an entry-level job, said Trace Urdan, an analyst who covers the for-profit education industry at Wells Fargo Securities.

“There's still a lot of anxiety among low-wage workers about the wisdom of borrowing money and going back to school,” Urdan said.

The estimated annual cost for full-time students at the Northern Kentucky campus is $25,043 to $27,455, including living expenses, according to Brown Mackie's website.

Enrollment at the 28 Brown Mackie Colleges declined by 1,510 students in fiscal year 2014, an 8.8 percent decrease, according to EDMC's latest annual report. Enrollment overall at EDMC's 110 schools was down 7.3 percent to 118,090.

Brown Mackie College campuses represent 13 percent of enrollments for EDMC schools, which include the Art Institutes, Argosy University and South University.

Hardman said there were no plans to close other campuses.

The announcement was made as EDMC attempts to cut costs and fends off lawsuits, including one from federal regulators over alleged recruiting violations. Last week, the company announced 225 faculty and staff cuts at its Art Institutes, on top of hundreds of other jobs eliminated throughout the company last year.

Chris Fleisher is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7854 or cfleisher@tribweb.com.

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