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Moody’s Downgrades WIU Rating

Aug 13, 2013

Western Illinois University’s credit rating has been downgraded by Moody’s  Investors Service, though the school has plenty of company.

Moody’s also downgraded a few other public universities in the state, and it gave a “Negative Outlook” to every one of Illinois’ public universities.

We have to see what we can do ourselves to move forward

In Moody's report, the corporation cited weak liquidity and pressures on enrollment at WIU. It also pointed to the pension crisis that has yet to be resolved by state lawmakers.

Credit Rich Egger

“I’d like to put it all (the lower rating) on the state, but I think that would not be a good management practice,” said Matt Bierman, Budget Director for WIU.

“We have to see what we can do ourselves to move forward.”

Bierman said one key to improving Western’s bond rating is to increase enrollment. He said that’s always an issue with bond rating agencies, and in its report Moody’s said declining enrollment at WIU will limit the university’s revenue growth through tuition.

Bierman said WIU must also demonstrate its resources are being used as wisely as possible.

He said the lower rating will have no immediate impact on WIU because there are no plans to issue bonds in the next two to four years.

“We have no intention to go out and sell debt with this kind of a rating,” Bierman said. “We will do everything we can to conserve our resources, to fund things internally until we can improve or the state can improve.”

WIU has sold bonds several times in recent years, but Bierman said the university has gone five or six years without issuing debt at other points in its history.