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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns enhanced Aa2 to University of Northern Colorado (CO)'s 2018B; outlook stable

13 Jun 2018

New York, June 13, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Aa2 enhanced rating on University of Northern Colorado's $15.73 million of Institutional Enterprise Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2018B (fixed rate, maturing 2041) to be issued by the Board of Trustees for the University of Northern Colorado. Moody's assigned an A3 underlying rating on May 31, 2018. The outlook on the underlying and enhanced ratings is stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The Aa2 enhanced rating and stable outlook are derived from the structure and mechanics of the Colorado Higher Education Enhancement Program, which is based on the State of Colorado's current rating and outlook.

The underlying A3 rating reflects UNC's role as a mid-sized regional public university, with relatively moderate direct debt leverage and no additional debt plans. UNC has experienced some success from its multi-year fiscal stabilization plan in enrollment stability and net tuition revenue growth. Offsetting challenges reflect weakened liquidity from the sizeable use of reserves to support its strategic plan over the last four years, with weakened operations and cash flow generation constraining its ability to restore reserves. Further pressure stems from historically limited operating and capital support from State of Colorado (Aa1 stable issuer rating), as well as the elevated exposure to the state's underfunded pension liability.

RATING OUTLOOK

The stable outlook for the enhanced rating is based on the state's current stable long-term outlook.

The stable outlook on the underlying rating reflects our expectations of operating cash flow margins between 6-8%, debt service coverage above 1.0x, and limited use of liquidity through fiscal 2019. It also incorporates our expectation UNC will achieve balanced operations in fiscal 2020, with a return to measured growth in financial reserves.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE

- Enhanced rating: Upgrade in the State of Colorado rating

- Underlying rating: Sustained move to markedly stronger operation performance; material growth in unrestricted liquidity

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO A DOWNGRADE

- Enhanced rating: Deterioration in credit quality of the State of Colorado rating

- Underlying rating: Failure to maintain debt service coverage of at least 1.0x; continued use of reserves further deteriorating liquidity position

LEGAL SECURITY

The Series 2018B bonds are expected to be secured by the state intercept program. The intercept program currently covers the Series 2011A, 2014A, 2015A, and 2016A bonds. Colorado's higher education intercept program is categorized as an unlimited advance. Should the university fail to provide sufficient funds for debt service, the trustee is required to notify the state treasurer on the business day immediately prior to the debt service payment date. The treasurer is required to remit funds to the trustee in immediately available funds of the state. The treasurer recovers the debt service payment from the university's fee-for-service funds, as well as from unpledged tuition revenue.

Virtually all of UNC's debt (Series 2011A, 2011B, 2014A, 2015A 2016A, and planned Series 2018A and 2018B collectively, the parity bonds) is secured by a pledge that includes net revenues of certain auxiliary enterprise facilities (housing, dining, and certain student recreational facilities), certain mandatory student fees, 10% of net tuition revenue, as well as indirect cost recoveries (overhead received for research grants and contracts) and extended studies revenue. The fiscal 2017 net pledged revenue was $39.1 million, which is a limited 19% of the university's Moody's adjusted operating revenues of $205 million.

The revenue pledge is net of Prior Obligations (approximately $3.8 million of senior lien Series 2008A Auxiliary Facility Revenue Bonds) and any operation and maintenance expenses. The fiscal 2017 debt service coverage for the parity bonds was 3.9x.

USE OF PROCEEDS

Proceeds of the Series 2018B bonds are expected to be used to refund all or portions of the outstanding Series 2011B bonds; and to pay costs of issuance.

PROFILE

The University of Northern Colorado is a four-year university located in Greeley, Colorado, which is located one hour north of the Denver Metropolitan Area. UNC offers undergraduate and graduate programs among its six colleges. In fiscal 2017, the university recorded operating revenues of $205 million. It is the fourth largest university in the state with a fall 2017 full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of 11,337 students.

METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in this rating was State Aid Intercept Programs and Financings published in December 2017. 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.

Mary Cooney
Lead Analyst
Higher Education
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich Street
New York 10007
US
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Kendra Smith
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Higher Education
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

No Related Data.
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