Tuition Challenges Continue for Many U.S. Universities, but Majority Forecast Growth Results of 2010 Survey of US Higher Education

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1 DECEMBER 16, 2010 U.S. PUBLIC FINANCE SPECIAL COMMENT Tuition Challenges Continue for Many U.S. Universities, but Majority Forecast Growth Results of 2010 Survey of US Higher Education Table of Contents: SUMMARY OPINION 1 PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION 2 Private Higher Education: Net Tuition Revenue Rises at Slower Rate 2 Private Education: Rising Applications Cause Selectivity to Strengthen, but Yields Weaken 4 PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION 4 Public Higher Education: Nearly All Report Net Tuition Revenue Gains for 2010; Slower Growth Likely for Public Higher Education: Enrollment Continues to Rise, Especially at Undergraduate Level 6 Analyst Contacts: NEW YORK Erin V. Ortiz Associate Analyst Leah Ploussiou-Chatzigiannis Analyst Michael Gusta Associate Analyst Karen Kedem Assistant Vice President-Analyst Summary Opinion For the second year, the majority of private and public institutions are projecting net tuition revenue growth in FY 2011, as well as stable or increased enrollment, according to our survey of rated private and public colleges and universities. The survey is designed to assess the continuing impact of the nation s weak economic recovery on net tuition revenue and student demand. However, the survey also reveals that 15% of private colleges and universities continue to struggle with stagnant or declining net tuition revenue, a sharp reversal from 2002 to 2008 period when no more than 5% experienced an annual decline in net tuition revenue. Public universities are not immune from experiencing pressure on net tuition revenue growth with 19% of public respondents anticipating declining net tuition and fee revenue in FY The key findings from the survey results 1, which are discussed in more detail in the report, include:» Approximately 15% of private colleges and universities are projecting declines in net tuition revenue for FY 2011, following FY 2010 when 15% of private institutions reported actual declines; the 15% level is much higher than the 3-5% level of years prior to 2009.» Tuition revenue pressure for private institutions varies by geography with institutions in the South and West continuing to enjoy an advantage compared to the Mid- Atlantic/Midwest and NY/New England regions.» An overwhelming share (96%) of public universities report a higher amount of net tuition and fee revenue in FY 2010 than in FY 2009 with a strong median increase of 11%. These favorable results were driven by enrollment growth and tuition increases as most universities raised tuition in reaction to state funding cuts. BOSTON Kim Tuby Vice President-Senior Analyst contacts continued on the last page 1 Forty percent of Moody s portfolio of private and public colleges and universities responded to this year s survey

2 » The tuition discount rate for private and public institutions is expected to remain relatively flat from FY 2010 to FY 2011 with private institutions estimating a 41% discount rate and public institutions estimating a 23% rate.» Private colleges and universities continue to experience declines in admitted student yields with a fall 2010 median of 28%. Nearly half (49%) of private institution respondents report their matriculation rate declined in fall Public universities continue to report more stable, and much higher matriculation rates.» Application volume and enrollment growth remain strong for both private and public institutions with private and public institutions reporting a median change in total FTE enrollment of 1.9% and 2.2%, respectively, for fall 2010 from fall Increases in application volume highlight the growing tendency of students to apply to more colleges and universities than in previous years. Private Higher Education Moody s received 128 responses to our survey, representing 45% of our portfolio of 287 rated private college and universities. The rating categories of the private institution respondents ranged from Aaa to B3. In several cases, borrowers did not supply responses to all questions and in these instances were excluded from the analysis of those particular questions. Private Higher Education: Net Tuition Revenue Rises at Slower Rate Survey results show that a higher percentage of borrowers expect net tuition and fee revenue to increase in the current fiscal year (FY 2011), compared to more pessimistic results estimated in last year s survey results. Of this year s respondents, 15.1% now report an actual decline in net tuition and fee revenue in FY 2010, compared to 29% that estimated a decline in last year s survey. Across all private university respondents, 79% project an increase in net tuition revenue for FY 2011, and the survey sample projects a median 3.9% increase in net tuition revenue compared with actual revenue collected in FY For FY 2011, approximately 15% of respondents project a decline in net tuition and fee revenue. FIGURE 1 Tuition Pressure Eases Somewhat for 2011 % Private Colleges/Universities Expecting Lower Tuition Revenues 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% 2010 Survey 2009 Survey Actual; Estimated As a consequence of the economic downturn, a larger percentage of private institutions are now experiencing pressure on net tuition revenue compared to previous years, but not as severely as feared 2 DECEMBER 16, 2010 SPECIAL COMMENT: TUITION CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR MANY U.S. UNIVERSITIES, BUT MAJORITY FORECAST GROWTH

3 immediately after the financial crisis. These results emphasize both ongoing challenges for private institutions that are highly dependent on student tuition, as well as the resilience and strength in demand enjoyed by a majority of rated private colleges and universities. For FY 2011, survey results show that higher rated colleges and universities, which generally have larger endowments dedicated for financial aid, are projecting lower increases in net tuition revenue. Respondents rated below A1 are estimating minimally higher net tuition revenue growth than institutions rated A1 and higher. Based on survey results, institutions rated below A1 experienced a 4.4% median increase in FY 2010 and are projecting a 4.8% increase in net tuition in FY In contrast, institutions rated A1 and above saw a 3.2% increase in FY 2010 and are projecting a 2.7% increase in net tuition revenue in FY A similar trend is reflected in net tuition per student. The projection for FY 2011 net tuition revenue per student for all private university respondents is $20,566, a 2.7% increase over FY 2010 of $20,034. Institutions rated below A1 are projecting a 3% median growth of net tuition per student. In contrast, institutions rated A1 and above are projecting a 0.3% median decline. In FY 2010, the median discount rate was 40%. The FY 2011 discount rate is forecasted to remain fairly flat from FY 2010 at a median of 41%. The projections for net tuition and fee revenue show distinct patterns by geographic region 2. As the data in Figure 2 indicates, private institutions in the South and West anticipate the strongest growth in net tuition and fee revenue with 40% of the institutions projecting growth in excess of 6%. Fifty percent of the institutions in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, the largest group at 42% of respondents, expect a decline in net tuition and fee revenue. Approximately one-third of private colleges and universities in the New York and New England region, which comprises 33% of the sample size, project a decline in net tuition and fee revenue and 33% are projecting to record growth of 6% or higher. FIGURE 2 Projected Growth in Net Tuition Revenue for Private Colleges and Universities by Geographic Region, FY 2011 % of Declines % of Flat to 5.9% Growth % of 6% or Higher Growth % of Total Sample South & West 17% 22% 40% 25% Mid - Atlantic / Midwest 50% 46% 27% 42% NY / New England 33% 32% 33% 33% Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% Based on these results, Moody s believes that institutions in the South and West continue to enjoy an advantage in net tuition and fee revenue trends due to the overall vibrant demographics of the regions. Both the Mid-Atlantic/Midwest and New York/New England regions face mixed demographics that weaken local demand and increase the need to attract students from growth regions of the nation. The New York and New England regions include many institutions with strong market positions and 2 For this purpose, states are grouped into the following geographic regions: South and West (California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and South Carolina); Mid-Atlantic and Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Oklahoma); New York and New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Rhode Island). 3 DECEMBER 16, 2010 SPECIAL COMMENT: TUITION CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR MANY U.S. UNIVERSITIES, BUT MAJORITY FORECAST GROWTH

4 greater national draw, enabling them to maintain their pricing power despite reduced populations of potential students in their immediate region. Private Education: Rising Applications Cause Selectivity to Strengthen, but Yields Weaken The results of this year s survey indicate that overall full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment (undergraduate, graduate and professional) at private universities rose a median of 1.9% over fall Nearly identical shares of respondents reported growth at the undergraduate and graduate level: undergraduate FTE enrollment grew for 74.3% of the colleges and universities, while graduate and professional FTE enrollment grew for 73.4% of surveyed institutions. Reported undergraduate enrollments rose by a median of 1.5% in fall 2010, compared to a median of 0.8% in fall These results are reflective of the increased demand from students during recessionary periods, particularly for professional degrees and part-time education. Moody s survey highlights the continuing trend toward increasing applications by first time students, which is indicative of the now established behavior among students to apply to an increasing number of colleges and universities. Nearly three quarters (72.7%) of private institution respondents report a greater number of applications for fall 2010 compared to fall Due largely to this increase in applications, the median reported selectivity rate improved to 54.7% in fall 2010 compared to a selectivity rate of 58.8% in fall By contrast, the median selectivity rate for all rated private colleges and universities was 67.5% in For FY 2010, 50% of the institutions reported selectivity rates ranging between 39.5% and 69.5% while 10% of the respondents had a selectivity rate of less than 25%. In contrast to selectivity rates, matriculation (yield on accepted students) rates are weaker than in past years for many private colleges and universities. Nearly half (49%) of respondents reported that their matriculation rate had declined in fall 2010, although this is an improvement from the 70% that reported a decline in last year s survey. Overall, the median matriculation rate for fall 2010 was 28%, essentially unchanged from the prior year. Matriculation for private colleges and universities has been weakening at a modest but consistent rate for several years, down from 34% in The fall 2010 matriculation rates ranged from a high of 85% to a low of 13%. Sixty percent of institutions rated below A1 have matriculation rates lower than 20%. Moody s survey reveals that 45% of institutions experienced an increase in their freshmen to sophomore retention rate, although the median retention from fall 2009 to fall 2010 increased marginally from 87% in fall 2009 to 88% in fall Sixty four percent of institutions that reported increases in retention rates are rated A1 and higher. The retention rates range from a minimum of 39% to a maximum of 99% across this year s respondents. Public Higher Education Moody s received 73 responses to our survey, which represents 33% of our portfolio of 219 rated public universities and systems. The rating categories of the public institution respondents ranged from Aaa to A3. In the instance that a respondent did not submit a response to all of the questions, we excluded that public higher education survey participant from the analysis of those particular questions. 4 DECEMBER 16, 2010 SPECIAL COMMENT: TUITION CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR MANY U.S. UNIVERSITIES, BUT MAJORITY FORECAST GROWTH

5 Public Higher Education: Nearly All Report Net Tuition Revenue Gains for 2010; Slower Growth Likely for 2011 The overwhelming share (96%) of this year s respondents collected a higher amount of net tuition and fee revenue in FY 2010 than in FY 2009 with a strong median increase of 11%. These favorable results were driven by enrollment growth and tuition increases, as most public universities raised their prices in reaction to cuts in state funding. While the large majority of public university respondents (81%) also expect to receive a higher amount of net tuition and fee revenue in FY 2011, they expect the median increase to be smaller at 4.4%. Although the large majority of survey respondents project higher net tuition revenue for FY 2011, fewer forecast growth compared to the prior year. In fact, for FY 2011, almost one-fifth (19%) of respondents project a decline in net tuition and fee revenue. Of the borrowers in this year s survey anticipating a decline in net tuition revenue for FY 2011, the median decline is expected to be negative 5.2%. The range of the decrease in net tuition and fee revenue is projected to be from negative 0.3% to a high of negative 11%. This higher number expecting a decline reflects the growing pressure on some public universities to moderate tuition increases and increase financial aid for low and moderate income students in the form of scholarships and fellowships. Correspondingly, 90% of the respondents in this year s survey expect an increase in financial aid in FY 2011, with those institutions projecting a median increase of 7%. The remaining 10% of institutions project a median decrease of just negative 1%. Moody s notes that net tuition and fee revenue is net of scholarship aid and includes Pell Grant revenue, federal aid with specific requirements to provide assistance for low income families that otherwise may not be able to attend post-secondary education. The median change of the amount of Pell Grant aid awarded was an increase of $5.3 million (median change of 53%) in FY 2010 from FY Increases of Pell Grant revenue from FY 2009 to FY 2010 and projected for FY 2011 can be attributed to the economic downturn and subsequent changes in Pell Grant Program requirements and funding levels. Based on the survey respondents, revenue received from Pell Grants is projected to increase to a median of $20 million in FY 2011, up from $17 million in FY Most public institutions have the ability to increase net tuition and fee revenue by increasing the percentage of non-resident students attending the institution, as non-resident student tuition is generally at least twice as much as a resident student s tuition. As reported by survey respondents, the median resident and non-resident gross tuition (sticker price) and fees in FY 2011 is $7,128 and $17,157, respectively. However, a public university s mission and the corresponding political pressure to provide affordable access for state residents prevents significant annual shifts to a higher proportion of out-of-state students. In fall 2010, 56% of public university respondents reported an increase in outof-state students as a percentage of the total student population, but only a 1% median increase over fall In FY 2011, in-state gross tuition and fees range from $1,452 to $15,250 and out-of-state tuition and fees range from $5,215 and $35,812. The public colleges and universities that responded to the survey increased tuition in FY 2011 from FY 2010 for both in-state and out-of-state students at a median rate of 6% and 5%, respectively. Public institutions median discount rate based on the survey respondents has risen since FY In FY 2010, the median discount rate was reported at 23.0%. The FY 2011 discount rate is forecasted to remain essentially flat from FY 2010 at a median of 23.1%. 5 DECEMBER 16, 2010 SPECIAL COMMENT: TUITION CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR MANY U.S. UNIVERSITIES, BUT MAJORITY FORECAST GROWTH

6 Public Higher Education: Enrollment Continues to Rise, Especially at Undergraduate Level This year s survey indicates that 79% of public university respondents reported an increase in fall 2010 total FTE enrollment from fall 2009 with the median change in total FTE enrollment of 2.2%. The median change in total FTE enrollment ranged between negative 10.7% and positive 14.1%. Among the small number that reported a decline in fall 2010 FTE, sixty percent are located in the NY/New England and Mid-Atlantic / Midwest regions compared to 40% located in the South and West, a finding consistent with demographic trends in these regions. Moody s survey reveals that only 58% of survey respondents reported increasing graduate and professional FTE student enrollment for fall This is a drastic decline from last year s survey, when 91% of public institutions experienced an increase in the number of graduate and professional FTE students. The median increase in the number of graduate and professional students was 1% in fall 2010 over fall 2009 compared to 4% in fall of 2009 over fall of 2008, as reported by respondents in last year s survey. The decreases associated with graduate and professional FTE enrollment could be somewhat attributed to a marginally improving economy and employer reductions in tuition reimbursement programs. For fall 2010, 86% of respondents reported an increase in the number of undergraduate FTE students with 59% of institutions reporting a larger incoming freshmen class size in fall 2010 from fall The highest growth reported for undergraduate enrollment in fall 2010 was 14%, while the largest decline was 11%. Undergraduate enrollment growth at public colleges and universities is largely a result of continued economic stress faced by families who may choose to enroll at public institutions that are typically less expensive than their private institution counterparts. On the whole, application volume increased at 86% of public institutions for the fall 2010 first-year class, which is consistent with recent enrollment trends as students are applying to a greater number of institutions, as well as the pronounced shift of demand toward public universities. The median increase in applications for public universities was reported at 4.6% for fall of Nearly four-fifths (79%) of public institution respondents reported overall enrollment growth, while 58% of institutions reported a lower matriculation rate in fall The median reported matriculation rate deteriorated 1% from fall 2009 to 40%, which is modest given the overall application growth, but remains much higher than matriculation rates in the private higher education sector. Indeed, only 7% of public university survey respondents reported a matriculation rate below 25%. Although selectivity measures are not as critical for most public universities due to their more access-oriented missions; nevertheless, just over half (52%) of respondents reported improved selectivity of their incoming class. The median selectivity rate in fall 2010 was 67%, a slight improvement of 1% from fall 2009 s selectivity rate of 68%. Moody s survey shows that 58% of public universities improved or maintained their freshman to sophomore retention rate in fall 2010 from fall The median retention rate was 78% for both fall 2009 and fall For fall 2010, the highest retention rate was 96% and the lowest was 31%. As public institutions face increased pressure to demonstrate outcomes of student achievement and in some states is linked to state funding, Moody s expects that retention rates will continue to improve, supporting enrollment stability and growth in the sector. Survey results reveal that most public colleges and universities expect to generate a higher amount of net tuition revenue in FY 2011 despite increases in financial aid budgets. The respondents estimates of Pell Grant revenue receipts, although somewhat uncertain, indicate that many public institutions will benefit financially from changes in the Pell Grant Program eligibility requirements coupled with a 6 DECEMBER 16, 2010 SPECIAL COMMENT: TUITION CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR MANY U.S. UNIVERSITIES, BUT MAJORITY FORECAST GROWTH

7 higher amount of Pell Grant eligible students. The public college and university respondents also benefit from continued enrollment growth to help grow net tuition. Healthy student demand continues to pervade public colleges and universities, which are continuing to experience steady total FTE enrollment increases. Although enrollment declines have been more prevalent in graduate and professional programs from fall 2009, the majority of institutions still report graduate and professional FTE student enrollment growth for fall DECEMBER 16, 2010 SPECIAL COMMENT: TUITION CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR MANY U.S. UNIVERSITIES, BUT MAJORITY FORECAST GROWTH

8 » contacts continued from page 1 Report Number: Analyst Contacts: NEW YORK Pranav Sharma Associate Analyst John C. Nelson Managing Director - Public Finance Authors Erin Ortiz Leah Ploussiou Chatzigiannis Senior Production Associate Wendy Kroeker Editors Kim Tuby John C. Nelson 2010 Moody s Investors Service, Inc. and/or its licensors and affiliates (collectively, MOODY S ). All rights reserved. CREDIT RATINGS ARE MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE, INC.'S ( MIS ) CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES. MIS DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL, FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY COME DUE AND ANY ESTIMATED FINANCIAL LOSS IN THE EVENT OF DEFAULT. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. 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MJKK is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Group Japan G.K., which is wholly owned by Moody s Overseas Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCO. This credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness or a debt obligation of the issuer, not on the equity securities of the issuer or any form of security that is available to retail investors. It would be dangerous for retail investors to make any investment decision based on this credit rating. If in doubt you should contact your financial or other professional adviser. 8 DECEMBER 16, 2010 SPECIAL COMMENT: TUITION CHALLENGES CONTINUE FOR MANY U.S. UNIVERSITIES, BUT MAJORITY FORECAST GROWTH

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