Bond rating agencies reaffirm UMass' credit ratings

January 10, 2017

Bond rating agencies reaffirm UMass' credit ratings

Rising demand and strong fiscal management key factors in maintaining ratings

BOSTON – Citing growing enrollment, conservative budgeting practices and sound fiscal management, the three major bond rating agencies have reaffirmed UMass’ strong financial profile by maintaining existing ratings.

In reports released this week, the university was rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investor Service, AA by Fitch Ratings and AA- by S&P, indicating that UMass has a strong capacity to repay its loans.

“I’m gratified to see UMass’ strong financial management and strategic vision recognized by the credit rating agencies,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “These ratings enable us to borrow at lower rates, which not only helps us meet our commitment to the Commonwealth to manage our resources responsibly, it helps us achieve our mission of delivering world-class public higher education at an affordable cost.”

In determining its Aa2 rating, Moody’s cited the university’s size and scope — with five diverse campuses and a $3 billion budget — above average revenue growth and stable cash flow margins reflecting disciplined central oversight of the campuses.

Moody’s also noted that its rating reflects the university’s “role as a leading provider of four-year public higher education in the state.”

In its report, Fitch Ratings highlighted the university’s conservative budgeting practices and strong demand, as reflected by growing application and matriculation rates.

“Fitch views favorably the university's ability to increase freshmen enrollment, which is a testament to its diverse programs and affordability, versus the more costly private alternatives, and particularly impressive as high school demographics in the northeast are declining,” the report said.

S&P’s report cited the university’s rising enrollment, consistently positive operating performance, comprehensive program offerings — including a law school and medical school — solid and experienced management team and comprehensive long-term strategic plans.

The AA- rating “reflects the system’s flagship role in Massachusetts' public higher education and the comprehensive nature of the system, including robust research programs and a strong online presence,” the S&P report said.

“These ratings are an endorsement of the university’s commitment to maintaining a balanced budget and an acknowledgement of the hard work and discipline employed across the system in its financial management and planning,” said Rob Manning, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees.

To view the ratings reports, visit www.umassp.edu/budget-office/umass-credit-rating.

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Contact: Jeff Cournoyer, 978-935-8521, jcournoyer@umassp.edu