Moodys downgrades Earlham for second time in two years - should I be concerned why or why not?

Thanks for that post. They are doing a lot of investing in their buildings, and still have a very strong endowment. Liberal arts is taking a hit nationally as folks look for training rather than education, but Earlham is still financially strong.

@Joan2021 – It’s been close to a year since you signed that contract. What’s your daughter’s experience been at Earlham?

How has your daughter liked Earlham? I was just told last night that they are doing very poorly financially. We visited twice and my son is admitted but I’m concerned about their financial health. Don’t want him to be at a place that’s going downhill

We looked very closely at Earlham last year for my son, and saw no indication that there are any financial stability concerns. The endowment is healthy – I believe last year it was in the same range as schools like Kenyon and Bates which have 500+ more students than Earlham. There is lots of building and renovation going on, and the class of '20 was the largest in some time.

FWIW, I’m keeping an eye out for the annual report on college endowments in the Chronicle of Higher Education, (I’m a subscriber), which usually drops a bit before the end of January each year, reporting on returns from the previous fiscal year. I was already planning on posting information from it here once I can access it.

US News ranking lists the endowment size. It’s not a snapshot of right now, but you can see how compares to other schools in the same timeframe.

So the Chronicle’s hasn’t put out a (easily searchable) report yet, but the NACUBO listing is out now, so:

[ul][]Financial stresses are of long standing: I found Earlham’s accreditation report from 2004, which stated that 6 of the preceding 10 years had resulted in operational deficits, at least largely due to falling short of enrollment targets
]That report listed the enrollment target as 1,200; I don’t know if that’s still the goal, but they’re below it (at 1,067)
[]The 2014 accreditation report sounded a lot more positive than the 2004 one
]In particular, I found it positive that that report mentioned that the college is clearing up its backlog of deferred maintenance
[]The 2014 report did, however, mention continuing deficits, in part due to continued enrollment shortfalls
]Earlham’s endowment was $405.5M on 30 June 2015, which was up from 2009 ($245.2M) and 2013 ($348.0M); however, significant draws have been made on the “quasi-endowment”, which is a cause for concern
[]Earlham’s endowment as of 30 June 2016 was down more than the average (the average college endowment dropped 1.9% last year), by 5.3% back down near their 2013 level at $384.1M
]It appears that this was part of a general trend of small liberal arts colleges as a whole getting hammered last year, from eyeballing the NACUBO tables[/ul]
TL;DR: They have a financial plan, and they still have a large endowment to play with, but they’re not out of the woods yet. If they can get enrollments up while being selective, they should be okay, would be my guess.

I thought last year’s freshman class was larger than usual in an effort to increase enrollment but that it was going to be done gradually. Not an insider, though. Is that right?

Wow. the thought of my students college going bankrupt is scary. That is something I just would not even have thought of looking into. I am glad rating agencies are keeping an eye out.