The University of Hawaiʻi recently completed a revenue bond transaction that refinanced more than $105 million in previously existing revenue bonds. The transaction will save UH and the State of Hawai‘i more than $17 million over the next 20 years, but required taking quick action to refinance the debt before the end of 2017. The office of the UH Vice President for Budget and Finance accelerated a revenue bond transaction to close before December 31, 2017, before new federal tax regulations passed by congress, went into effect.
The UH Board of Regents had approved the bond transaction in November 2017.
“Vice President Kalbert Young and his team did a remarkable job by responding immediately to some of the challenges to higher education posed by the new federal tax legislation,” said UH President David Lassner. “Not only did they lead a successful review that affirmed the positive rating and outlook for the University of Hawaiʻi, in some ways above that of the national higher education sector, but this refinancing of existing bonds will save the university millions.”
The annual debt service savings is between $689,000 and $1.5 million.
The transaction also helped bolster the university’s positive trend for improving financial conditions. Both Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, the two credit rating agencies that rate UH bonds, affirmed confident credit rating levels.
On December 7, 2017 Moody’s reaffirmed its Aa2 rating level for the university, the third highest rating available from the agency. It also maintained the university’s outlook at stable. Moody’s raised UH’s outlook to stable from negative last April. Fitch also reaffirmed its AA rating and ‘stable’ outlook for the university.
It should be noted that the outlook for the national higher education sector has dipped. On December 6, 2017 Moody’s downgraded its financial outlook for higher education to negative from stable. The credit rating agency cited multiple factors including the congressional GOP tax bill, cuts to federal financial aid programs and slow revenue growth versus higher expenses.