Moody’s Investor’s Service has affirmed Hamilton College’s Aa2 rating and said the College’s financial outlook is stable.
Obligations rated Aa are judged to be high quality, according to Moody’s, and are subject to very low credit risk.
“Moody’s assessment of Hamilton’s creditworthiness affirms the College’s strong market position, prudent fiscal management, and substantial financial support from alumni, parents, and friends,” said President David Wippman. “Hamilton has traditionally made strategic investments in its programs, people, and facilities, while maintaining financial equilibrium. Moody’s rating provides external endorsement of our practices.”
Hamilton’s rating is in contrast to higher education as a whole. In its annual outlook released in December 2018, Moody’s said “The 2019 outlook for the U.S. higher education sector remains negative for the second consecutive year.” Only 16 percent of the private colleges and universities reviewed by Moody’s received an Aa2 rating.
Moody’s said “Hamilton’s excellent credit quality (Aa2 stable) is underpinned by its well established position as a selective liberal arts college drawing from a broad geographic, but highly competitive, area. It has strong wealth and liquidity providing an excellent buffer to operations and debt.”
The investor’s service said the College’s “operations and cash flow generation are strong, reflecting prudent budgeting and cost containment to manage with slowing revenue growth. Fundraising has helped build reserves,” according to Moody’s, “and is expected to pick-up with the advent of a new $400 million capital campaign.”
Moody’s said it assigned Hamilton a stable outlook, because it “reflects our expectations of the resumption of growth in net tuition revenue to allow for investment in new initiatives and facilities.”
Hamilton has maintained its Aa2 rating, even as it has increased spending on financial aid, renovated and added new facilities, and improved programs. The College’s financial aid budget, for example, has grown by more than 80 percent from $24.3 million in 2009-10 to about $44 million in 2018-19.