National credit rating agencies recognize Oklahoma State University’s strong financial standing
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
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Two leading national credit rating agencies recently assigned AA- ratings to Oklahoma State University following extensive financial reviews, marking the eighth year in a row OSU has achieved the highest credit rating of any higher education system in Oklahoma.
“Our outstanding credit score is a testament to the diligent financial management of our university, reflecting the strong commitment of the regents and leadership to responsible stewardship of our resources, which ensures a bright future for our students and faculty,” said Jarold Callahan, chairman of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents.
“We will continue to maintain a fiscally conservative approach as we work to cement OSU as the nation’s preeminent land-grant university where students receive a quality, affordable and meaningful education,” said OSU President Kayse Shrum.
The latest S&P Global credit rating recognizes OSU’s role as a co-flagship higher education institution in Oklahoma and its R-1 Carnegie designation, and concludes the largest university system in the state has a “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.”
“We assessed OSU's enterprise profile as extremely strong, characterized by its position as a co-flagship and land-grant university in Oklahoma, with rising enrollment, a longer-term trend of increasing applications and improved graduation rates, and a solid fundraising and research presence,” the S&P Global report states.
Fitch Group, a fellow “big three credit rating agency,” also issued an AA- credit rating for OSU, noting the university’s stability and sound financial stewardship.
According to the latest report from Fitch, OSU’s AA- rating is supported by a trend of stable to modest enrollment growth and modestly competitive demand metrics, consistent with a flagship public research institution.
“While slightly more than one-third of OSU's operating revenue consistently comes from student revenues, OSU has good revenue diversity, benefiting from a growing research base, solid fundraising and sizable foundation,” the Fitch report states. “For a public university, OSU retains a healthy ability to make tuition and fee increases independently, although in practice, tuition and fee increases are infrequently implemented to maintain affordability in comparison to its Big 12 peers.”
OSU Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Joe Weaver attributes the high credit rating scores to fiscal responsibility and positive enrollment trends.
“These high ratings reflect the financial health of the OSU system, which continues to be a model for sustainable growth in higher education,” Weaver said.
Mitchell Emig, OSU director of administration and finance business operations, said OSU’s trend of enrollment growth and competitive demand metrics are major factors in these credit ratings. He also said that actions taken since Fiscal Year 2017 have led to refinancing and retiring over $562 million of debt, achieving a cash flow savings of just over $93 million.
“Financial discipline helped us manage the pandemic and retain our AA- ratings on OSU bonds,” Emig said. “Our strong financial position ensures continued access to financial markets and affordable borrowing rates to support the imperatives outlined in our strategic plan.”
For the complete S&P and Fitch reports, click here.