La Salle University debt downgraded by S&P

Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings downgraded La Salle University’s credit rating by one notch, to “BBB-,” one level above junk, citing a decline in overall enrollment over the last four years, heavy dependence on tuition for revenue, and relatively weak financial resources.

The agency praised La Salle’s recent tuition reset, which cut gross tuition to $28,800 for the 2017-18 school year from $40,400 last year, but said “this strategy will take time to prove a measurable negative or positive financial impact.”

Even though this year’s freshman class of 956 was a 21 percent increase over last year and was the university’s largest freshman class in 25 years, La Salle budgeted for flat financial results in the fiscal year ending May 31.

A spokesman for La Salle, which had $144 million in debt on May 31, 2016, said the university expected the downgrade and pointed to strong undergraduate application activity so far this fall.

The downgrade, announced at the end of August, was reported to bondholders Wednesday.