Moody's Says U. of Akron's Bond Rating is Strong, But Declining Enrollment Could Change That

May 10, 2016

Moody's says the University of Akron is financially solid, but the ratings agency has concerns about future enrollment.
Credit UNIVERSITY OF AKRON

Moody’s Investors Service has maintained the University of Akron’s A-1 overall bond rating, but has revised the school’s future outlook from stable to negative. As WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports, enrollment issues are the main concern.

Moody’s says the University of Akron has a prominent role in the community and stable state support. That contributed to the A-1 bond rating.  But the investor service anticipates significant enrollment declines that would strain financial resources and could lead to a ratings drop down the road.  

Moody's higher education analyst Christopher Collins says the 24 percent  drop in enrollment for this fall’s freshman class reflects the debate over recent changes at the University of Akron.

"It’s being largely attributed to the public commentary surrounding the university’s plan to reduce expenses by about $40 million over a three year period... It includes the elimination of about 215 positions during that period.”

University spokesman Wayne Hill says steps are being taken to bolster enrollment.   

“There are significant outreach efforts to both our local and regional markets as well as markets somewhat outside the area," says Hill.

He adds that, "If people have not been aware of the University of Akron and what we offer, we want to be able to make sure that they do become aware and give us some consideration.”

Hill says lower college enrollment is an issue across the state because of the high number of public and private institutions competing for fewer Ohio students.