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Rating Action:

Moody's Assigns A2 to University of West Florida's Dormitory Bonds and Affirms A1 Issuer; Outlook Stable(m)

11 Nov 2016

New York, November 11, 2016 -- Issue: Dormitory Refunding Revenue Bonds (University of West Florida Foundation, Inc.), Series 2016A; Rating: A2; Rating Type: Underlying LT; Sale Amount: $30,100,000; Expected Sale Date: 11/18/2016; Rating Description: Revenue: Public University Limited Pledge;

Summary Rating Rationale

Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the A1 issuer rating on the University of West Florida (UWF). Concurrently, we assigned an A2 rating to the proposed approximately $30 million of the University of West Florida Foundation, Inc. Dormitory Refunding Revenue Bonds, Series 2016A (2040 final maturity) expected to be issued through the University of West Florida Foundation, Inc. and affirmed the A2 rating on existing dormitory bonds. The outlook on the issuer rating is stable.

We have revised the outlook on the dormitory bonds to negative from stable, reflecting expectations for reduced debt service coverage and likely difficultly in raising rental rates materially and maintain very strong occupancy given high housing competition in the area.

The A1 issuer rating reflects UWF's healthy balance sheet reserves relative to debt and expenses, regional presence as a comprehensive public university, and material financial support from the State of Florida (Aa1 stable). These strengths are counterbalanced by volatile state funding, significant competition for students, thin operating performance, and rising deferred maintenance.

The A2 rating on the bonds reflect a narrow pledge of housing system revenues and sensitivity of these revenues to student demand and occupancy rates. The rating also incorporates the growing reserves of the housing system as well as the strategic importance of the housing to the university.

Rating Outlook

The stable outlook on the issuer rating reflects the expectation that the university will generate operating cash flow sufficient to grow reserves and invest in campus improvements. It also incorporates no near-term plans for materially increasing debt.

The negative outlook on the dormitory bonds reflects the expectation for more narrow pledged revenues due to the closure of dorms and resulting pressure on debt service coverage given the likely difficulty in raising rates in the future and maintaining strong occupancy rates given high housing competition in the area.

Factors that Could Lead to an Upgrade

Substantial and sustained growth in balance sheet reserves

Increase in operating scale and strengthened student demand

Factors that Could Lead to a Downgrade

Deterioration of operating performance or liquidity

Weakening student demand

Material increase in debt

For the dormitory bonds, failure to maintain debt service coverage at least at the covenanted requirement of 1.2 times

Legal Security

The dormitory bonds are secured solely from the net revenues of the dormitory system and are on parity with the foundation's outstanding debt. There is a rate covenant that net dormitory system revenues will be at least 1.20 times of debt service. Failure to comply with the coverage requirement will not constitute an event of default so long as the foundation takes all actions to correct the deficiency. However, a ratio of less than 1.00 times at the end of any fiscal year may constitute an event of default. For FY 2016, approximately $7 million of pledged net revenue covered debt service 1.55 times. There is no debt service reserve requirement for the bonds.

Use of Proceeds

Proceeds of the Series 2016A Bonds will be used to advance refund the Series 2009 and Series 2011 Escambia County Housing Finance Authority Dormitory Revenue Bonds (University of West Florida Foundation, Inc. Project) and to pay issuance costs.

Obligor Profile

The University of West Florida, a member of the State University System of Florida and founded in 1963, is a mid-sized public university with its main campus located in Pensacola and other locations on the northwest coast of Florida. UWF offers undergraduate and master's degree programs, specialist degrees, and a doctorate in education across its campuses and on-line.

The University of West Florida Foundation, Inc. is a direct support organization of the university and was founded in 1965 for the purpose of advancing the university's interests. The foundation owns the Student Housing System and operates the facilities as a consolidated housing system on behalf of UWF.

Methodology

The principal methodology used in this rating was Global Higher Education published in November 2015. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Regulatory Disclosures

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Erin Ortiz
Lead Analyst
Higher Education
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich Street
New York 10007
US
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Dennis Gephardt
Additional Contact
Higher Education
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

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