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Mount Airy College Center closing after spring semester

Mount Airy College Center closing after spring semester

The Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education, an alliance among Carroll, Frederick and Howard community colleges that opened in 2012, will cease operations at the end of the spring semester, although classes will still be offered at the three colleges' home campuses.

"Over time, the economic and enrollment realities for the partner community colleges have changed," according to a news release issued Thursday by Carroll Community College.

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The three colleges ultimately decided to close the Mount Airy College Center because it was more "fiscally prudent" for the colleges to operate the courses out of their main campuses, according to Carroll County Community College spokeswoman Sylvia Blair, who responded to all questions related to the closure by email.

"It costs the colleges less to operate on individual campuses than at a separate facility," Blair wrote in an email.

Carroll, Frederick and Howard community colleges first partnered in 2000 to form the Mid-Maryland Allied Healthcare Education Consortium and bring health care education to more students.

In 2012, the three schools opened the Mount Airy College Center to expand the consortium's work in a centralized location, offering programs in bioprocessing technology, health information technology, respiratory care and emergency medical technician/paramedic training. More than 2,000 students have enrolled at the center since it opened, according to the news release.

The renovation of the 24,000-square-foot facility, located in the Twin Arch Business Park, cost $4.3 million, according to the Times archives. Of that, $3 million came from the three colleges with another $1.3 million in federal grants. The colleges signed a 10-year lease in 2012, according to the Times archives.

Blair could not say what the Mount Airy College Center will be used for during the remaining six years on the lease.

When the facility opened, college officials estimated it would take between three and five years before enrollment, tuition and state aid revenue received would allow the center to cover its expenses.

Blair could not say how much revenue the consortium brought in from tuition during its four years or how many students were enrolled as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Students enrolled in classes at the Mount Airy College Center will continue through the spring semester before operations will relocate to the home campuses over the summer, according to the news release.

For the most part, students were attending a specific degree program offered through one school at the Mount Airy College Center or enrolled in specific classes, Blair said in an email.

While the schools will not work with students to help cover the costs of having to potentially travel farther to attend a home campus, students interested in attending the programs can apply for financial aid to help cover the different costs, Blair wrote in an email.

Students enrolled in classes offered through the health care consortium will still receive in-county tuition rates at the respective community colleges based on the college they attend. So a student from Carroll County attending Howard Community College would pay the in-county tuition cost as if he or she lived in Howard County.

Tuition in each county is decided based on the amount of credits a student takes. Last week, Carroll County Community College voted to increase tuition to $132 plus fees beginning in the fall. Current tuition rates in Howard are $132 per credit plus fees, and in Frederick, current tuition rates are $116 per credit plus fees.

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