As of November 14th, S&P Global Ratings has released its rating for Goucher College’s financial outlook. For reference, S&P Global Ratings is a financial research and credit rating agency reviewing stocks, bonds, businesses, and their respective health and changes for investors, or anyone this information concerns. It’s considered to be a highly reliable and transparent source created for the purpose of informing the public about where their money is best invested and spent. S&P covers everything from insurance, governments, and institutions, which includes higher education.
Goucher’s S&P grade for investors is a BBB+ as of November, which is considered a medium risk stock. Any lower of a grade would put the college in the range widely categorized as ‘junk stock,’ or a poor return on investment.
Private universities like Goucher depend primarily on student tuition to make a profit, as well as endowments and gifts. Goucher recently received its largest gift from an alumna ever, a donation of $10 million towards the construction of science facilities. However, even with this significant amount of money, Goucher has received a ‘negative rating’ from S&P, a downward move from its previous standing as ‘stable.’
As previously stated, tuition from its student body is one of Goucher’s largest sources of income, but its financial rating and health is also based on enrollment numbers, liquidity of its assets, and its statements. It’s extremely important for Goucher to have the necessary number of students enrolled and paying substantial tuition, or else it can’t keep itself afloat.
In 2018, two years before what is generally thought of as the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Goucher College wrote a news piece on its website celebrating their A- rating by S&P, saying, “The rating is good news for Goucher at a time when many are predicting financial struggles for liberal arts colleges.” It seems that those financial struggles have finally impacted Goucher post-pandemic. However, enrollment has seen a decline since fall of 2019, and the disclosure also cites “weakened financial operations” as a cause. It’s clear that Goucher has been having issues with enrolling enough students even before schools started shutting down due to health and safety concerns.
While Goucher has not yet issued a statement addressing the cause of this rating decrease, it may become necessary to speak out about the changes if it begins to impact students who are already enrolled. Not only that, but with such a large portion of the student body receiving merit aid and scholarships from Goucher, it brings the tentative financial stability of these students into question.
Read the full report from S&P Global Ratings