Aug 242011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

CSU has the second best credit rating in the state of Colorado among public universities behind only CU-Boulder, according to a nationally recognized information services agency.

“To the average student, what that means is what you see on the campus and what the administration is able to provide you is probably a little better than somebody that doesn’t have the rating that we do,” said CSU system treasurer Robert Osika.

This credit score is similar to how S&P measures the United State’s credit, which was downgraded this summer. CSU’s credit score of Aa3 is the same score given to the Japanese government.

Compared to universities with lower ratings, operations like campus building projects and facility renovations, for example, are easier to fund at CSU.

he agency known as Moody’s Analytics and Investor Services examines Colorado’s public universities’ financial and managerial information annually to assign it a credit score, which represents the monetary risk associated with loaning money to the university. State support and student demand –– or enrollment, admission and incoming freshmen class statistics –– are also factors considered when determining the rating a public university receives.

“This isn’t something easy to come up with. It’s an art as well as a science,” he said. “The capacity to provide to the students is a little bit stronger for us if we’re rated higher.”

Osika also explained that while CU-Boulder’s rating is better, it does not imply that the quality of students is superior.

“They’re a bit of a bigger university and different entity than we are. They just naturally have a little bit more revenue coming in than we do,” he said.

Lynn Johnson, Chief Financial Officer for CSU, pointed to CU’s Fitzsimmons Medical Center located in Denver as an example of how the university has a more diversified revenue stream –– and therefore, a stronger rating –– than CSU.

“Their financial position is just a little bit stronger than ours, basically,” Osika said.

While officials agreed that CSU’s rating was not likely to improve, they also said it wouldn’t worsen.

Measures governing the university’s financial decisions don’t allow for moves that could threaten to lower the institution’s rating.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at

The Ratings

Moody’s ratings categories from highest rated (Aaa) to lowest rated (Baa3):

Moody’s current ratings for Colorado institutions:

Aa2: University of Colorado
Aa3: Colorado State University System
A1: Auraria Higher Education Center
A1: Colorado School of Mines
A1: Metropolitan State College of Denver
A1: University of Northern Colorado
A2: Adams State College
A2: Fort Lewis College
A2: Mesa State College

  • A3:* Western State College
 Posted by at 5:59 pm

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