Art Institute of Charleston (copy) (recurring)

Tourists walk by the Market Street entrance to the Art Institute of Charleston. The for-profit art school announced on July 2 it will no longer enroll new students and students must leave the campus at the end of the fall semester. File/Paul Bowers/Staff

The Art Institute of Charleston is closing its doors for good, and school leaders are telling students they need to finish or transfer out by the end of the year.

The private college, which is part of a national chain, announced July 2 that it was ceasing new enrollments but denied that it was closing the campus. The school opened in 2007 on Market Street in downtown Charleston.

On the night of July 3, Art Institutes International System President Claude Brown sent an email to students saying that the Art Institute of Charleston "will no longer enroll students at this campus."

The email included a list of options for current students to complete their studies, but only one option mentioned finishing a degree at the Charleston campus:

"Completing your studies at the campus, uninterrupted, if you are able to graduate on or before the end of the calendar year."

The college is offering a 50 percent tuition reduction for students who finish at the Charleston campus, transfer to the Art Institute's online program, or transfer to another Art Institute location.

Dream Center Education Holdings LLC bought 31 Art Institute locations for $60 million in 2017. It also purchased Argosy University and South University. The Art Institute's previous owner, Education Management Corp., declared bankruptcy on June 29.

Dream Center has closed dozens of colleges this year. The company website says it is "discontinuing campus-based programs" at numerous schools, including the Art Institutes in Charleston, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Nashville, Tenn.

"Local demand at the physical locations where we decided to discontinue campus-based programs has been far surpassed by the demand for online programs in these markets, as evidenced by declining enrollments, which have made these campuses unsustainable," said Dream Center spokeswoman Anne Dean in an email this week. "We came to realize we would need to discontinue campus programs on a larger scale if we were to truly focus on investing toward a more flexible curriculum to meet student demand."

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Reach Paul Bowers at 843-937-5546. Follow him on Twitter @paul_bowers.