Moody’s Investors Service Affirms UNCW Bonds, Outlook Stable

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s general revenue bond rating of Aa3 with a stable outlook, according to an issuer comment report released March 30.

UNCW’s “strong financial support for operations and capital projects from the state and good financial oversight that has contributed to consistently healthy operating performance” were factors in the university maintaining its Aa3 revenue bond rating, the report states.

“Moody’s affirmation of our strong credit rating is a reflection of UNCW’s well-managed operations and strong strategic position, which is driven by student demand, diverse academic programs and competitive tuition pricing,” said Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Miles Lackey. “The fact that the university’s financial health remains solid following Hurricane Florence and the pandemic is a testament to the resilience and strength of UNCW and the Seahawk community.”

Moody’s analysts noted UNCW maintains favorable student demand with total FTE enrollment up roughly 1 percent in fall 2020 despite effects of the COVID-19, and the university expects further growth in fall 2021. The university’s wealth and liquidity is expected to increase over the next year due to reimbursements for insurance claims for expenses incurred related to recovery efforts following Hurricane Florence, the report states. The report also highlights the university’s “very good strategic positioning” and its successful ability to launch new academic programs driving undergraduate and graduate enrollment growth.

The stable outlook reflects improved revenue prospects through Fiscal Year 2022 for the U.S. higher education sector, according to the report. The outlook is “driven by a combination of factors including the potential for students to return to campus in greater numbers, funding boost from additional federal support and fiscal stimulus, a steadier outlook for state funding and strong investment returns.”

Maximizing efforts for fiscal sustainability and institutional efficiencies are key components of the university’s Strategic Plan.

--Venita Jenkins