Service Lowers Rating On OU Student Housing Revenue Bonds

Wednesday, December 5th 2007, 10:11 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A bond rating service has lowered its ratings outlook on the University of Oklahoma's student housing revenue bonds. The Fitch rating service cited a drop in OU's student housing population as the reason for the change. From fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2007, the occupancy rate at the Norman university's residence halls dropped from 91.7% to 76%.

Fitch said the negative outlook reflected ``significant concerns'' about the drop in occupancy ``which, when combined with the concurrent rise in debt service, has resulted in a significant drop in debt service coverage.''

Chris Kuwitzky, OU's associate vice president for administrative affairs and chief financial officer, said the decline in student population was expected because of ongoing building projects. Kuwitzky said Fitch's action disappointed OU officials.

``The housing system has been in the midst of an anticipated transitional period and is on the upswing,'' Kuwitzky said, adding that the occupancy of OU residence halls this fall is the highest since the fall of 2004. Kuwitzky said that trend should continue, based upon applications for admission into next year's freshman class at OU.