TEXT - Fitch says outlook is stable for U.S. colleges and universities in 2013

Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:49pm EST

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Dec 11 - Student demand and enrollment, balance sheet resources and liquidity, and risk management practices lead to a stable 2013 outlook for U.S. Colleges and Universities, according to a new Fitch Ratings report. 'Colleges and universities continue to fine tune recruitment strategies with a greater emphasis on retention and graduation rates,' said Joanne Ferrigan, Director at Fitch. 'While the increased focus on graduation rates may lead to a decline in enrollments as students graduate faster, overall enrollment is expected to remain relatively stable.' The state funding environment is starting to stabilize, which should temper operating pressures if federal reductions to the states is gradual as expected. Federal budget reduction measures may directly affect federal research grants receipts. Both public and private institutions are closely monitoring tuition costs in recognition of students' ability to pay and in conjunction with the institutions' competitive position and ability to balance financial operations. Investment performance has been mixed in 2012, and uncertainty about the financial markets remains. The majority of investment-grade higher education institutions have been making financial cushions a priority, relative to both financial leverage and operating expenses. Fitch will host a conference call to discuss its 2013 outlook for U.S. Colleges and Universities on Dec. 12th at 2pm EST. Dial-in details are: U.S. Participants: +1-877-467-8597 International Participants: +1-706-643-6296 Conference and Replay ID: 73933884 Replays will be available for 30 days. Replay dial-ins are accessible using the following numbers: U.S. Replay: +1-855-859-2056 International Replay: +1-404-537-3406 The full report titled '2013 Outlook: US Colleges and Universities' is available on the Fitch web site at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

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