Fitch affirms Vanderbilt University’s AAA bond rating

Vanderbilt University Kirkland Tower aerial photograph
(Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University’s bond rating continues to be AAA—the highest level—as designated by the Fitch Group, a leading credit agency.

In an April 28 news release, Fitch affirmed its top rating on publicly traded revenue bonds totaling $116 million that were issued on behalf of the university by Metro Nashville government.

Fitch also assigned the university a AAA Issuer Default Rating.

Among the key rating drivers listed by Fitch were Vanderbilt’s “very strong demand” and “well-diversified revenues.”

“Vanderbilt retains excellent demand characteristics and a favorable position in its region and nationally, with very selective admissions, a solid application pipeline and strong freshman retention levels near 96 percent,” the Fitch report said. “Revenue sources are balanced between net student fees, research funding, contractual payments from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, investment and endowment support and fundraising.”

In addition, Fitch affirmed its highest rating of “F1+” on Vanderbilt’s $300 million taxable and tax-exempt commercial paper program.

The report notes that Vanderbilt has continued its strong operating performance during the pandemic, “with consistent growth in net student fees, healthy yet sustainable support from a sizeable endowment, and some curtailment of capital spending.” Fitch describes the university’s outlook as stable.

Vanderbilt is rated AA+ and Aa1 by S&P and Moody’s, the other two major credit rating agencies, respectively.