Mason earns Aa3 rating from Moody’s Investors Service

George Mason University has been assigned an inaugural Aa3 rating with a stable outlook by Moody’s Investors Service, the university announced today.

“The Aa3 rating reflects George Mason University’s excellent strategic position and market strength as a growing comprehensive public university serving northern Virginia, with operating revenue in the $900 million range and more than 37,000 headcount students,” Moody’s Investors Services wrote in its press release.

The university plans to use the Aa3 issuer rating to seek Level III authority under Virginia’s Higher Education Restructuring Act, which will allow expanded autonomy and enhance Mason’s efficiencies.

The stable outlook incorporates the Mason’s strong demographic prospects and demand for academic programs combined with expectations of strong operating performance.

“This is an important milestone for the university, particularly as other higher education institutions are being downgraded,” said Carol Dillon Kissal, Mason’s senior vice president for administration and finance. “This rating reflects the broader economic health of the university, the strength of our enrollment and our ability to service our debts and deliver on our mission to be one of the best universities in Virginia.”

Moody’s views Mason’s credit rating favorably despite its negative outlook for the higher education sector as a whole because of declining enrollment. In contrast, Mason welcomed its largest freshman class this fall and is responsible for 64 percent of the net public university enrollment growth in Virginia in the last eight years.