The University of New England said it has received solid grades from two of the leading credit-rating firms, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.

Officials at the Maine-based private university said it is the first time UNE has received credit ratings from the two firms, and that the ratings will help ensure a stable financial future for the institution. Higher credit ratings enhance an organization’s ability to borrow money at lower interest rates.

UNE, which has about 8,725 students enrolled at its Biddeford and Portland campuses, has received a financial rating of A3 by Moody’s, the school said in a news release. An A3 rating is considered “upper-medium grade,” and is two levels below prime grade. Fitch assigned UNE an A- rating, which is also considered upper-medium grade.

“The A3 is anchored by UNE’s growing market presence as a health sciences-focused university with strong student demand, favorable operating performance, and increasing flexible reserves,” the Moody’s credit report says. “The rating also incorporates management’s thoughtful planning and careful execution, which has resulted in a significant strengthening of the university’s credit quality over the last decade.”

Among other assets of the university, the report makes note of UNE’s “substantial market growth over the last five years” (an increase of 32 percent), “very good programmatic diversity” within the health sciences and the arts and sciences, “with a breadth of degree types and delivery formats,” and spendable cash and investments that have nearly tripled to $118 million in the past five years.

The Fitch report points to several key ratings drivers, including sound financial management, moderate debt burden and enrollment growth.

“UNE has grown total (full-time equivalent) enrollment by over 30 percent in the past five years, largely by adding or expanding its graduate and professional programs in the health and social sciences fields,” the Fitch report says. “UNE has solid overall demand at the undergraduate and graduate levels and has been very effective in aligning its offerings to the market.”

UNE President Danielle Ripich, who has announced plans to retire at the end of this academic year, said the rankings confirm what UNE officials already believed about the institution’s financial growth and stability.

“We have financial depth, which will secure the future for our students and the longevity of the university,” Ripich said. “The institution’s financial leadership is reflected in this ranking.”

UNE Vice President of Finance and Administration Nicole Trufant said the reports show promise for the university’s longevity.

“These reports from Moody’s and Fitch recognize UNE’s strategic planning in connection with significant enrollment growth,” Trufant said. “Through the leadership of President Ripich and senior administration, the university has secured a strong financial future offering a diversity of programs that meet the market’s needs.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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