Weekly Market Update

HIGHER EDUCATION BILL EXPANDS BRIGHT FUTURES

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Florida's top-performing high school students would receive an added boost from a bill passed by the Florida Legislature on Monday. The sweeping higher education bill would permanently increase the amount of money provided under the state's popular Bright Futures scholarship. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott for his approval. The top tier of Bright Futures scholars will be able to attend Florida's public universities with all tuition and some fees paid by the state; the next tier will receive 75 percent of tuition and some fees paid. The legislation also includes a controversial provision that eliminates "free speech zones" on college campuses, spurring some legislators to vote no out of concern that the bill would make state universities and colleges liable for protests against speakers.

In Other News

  • The College of Idaho in Caldwell has taken the unusual step of appointing two local business and nonprofit leaders to its presidency. Doug Brigham is the former president of TitleOne, a title and escrow company, and Jim Everett is the former CEO of the Treasure Valley YMCA. The college's presidential search committee had narrowed its top two candidates to Brigham and Everett and was "intrigued" when the candidates proposed a co-presidential team.
  • Incoming first-year students for Duke University's class of 2022 will not be permitted to choose their roommates following the school's decision to ban the practice out of concern that students were choosing roommates with "very similar backgrounds to their own."
  • Grand Canyon University says the Higher Learning Commission has approved its application to regain its non-profit status. Brian Mueller, the university's president and CEO, says that non-profit status will put the private, Christian school on a level playing field with other institutions for tax status, philanthropic contributions, and research grant opportunities.
  • In an effort to help young immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally earn a college degree, Southern New Hampshire University announced that it is partnering with two organizations to offer $20 million in scholarships. The University, with support from The Shapiro Foundation and TheDream.US, said its program would reach 1,000 students over the next five years who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Rating Agency Update

  • Moody's assigned A3 to University of Miami's Series 2018 Revenue Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • Moody's assigned Aa3 to Western Carolina University's Series 2018 Revenue Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • Moody's downgraded The Sage College's rating from B3 to Caa1. The outlook is negative.
  • Moody's affirmed University of Utah Hospitals and Clinic's Aa2 rating. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P affirmed Lake Superior State University's BBB+ rating. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P lowered Alabama State University's rating from B to B-. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P affirmed Ball State University's AA- rating. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P assigned AA+ to Wellesley College's Series L Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P assigned BBB+ to Emerson College's Series 2018 Revenue Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P assigned AA- to University of Connecticut's Series 2018 Special Obligation-Student Fee Revenue Bonds. The outlook is stable.