The Management’s Discussion and Analysis (“MD&A”) of The University of Alabama’s (the “University”) annual financial report presents a discussion and analysis of the financial performance of the University during the fiscal years ended September 30, 2017 and 2016. This discussion has been prepared by management along with the financial statements and related note disclosures and should be read in conjunction with the financial statements and notes. The financial statements, notes and this discussion are the responsibility of management.
History, Mission and Governance
The University, the State of Alabama’s (the “State”) oldest institution of higher education, is the senior comprehensive doctoral-level institution in Alabama and began instructing students in 1831. Established by constitutional provision, with subsequent statutory mandates and authorizations, the University advances the intellectual and social condition of all the people of the State through quality programs of instruction, research and service. The University is a fully accredited institution of higher learning offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in nearly 200 fields of study. Professional programs include law and rural medicine. The University, a beautiful 1,200 acre residential campus located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, provides a high-quality education, scholarship opportunities, close to 600 student organizations, leading-edge research initiatives, and a focus on facilities and technology.
The University is accredited by and is a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. All degree programs in professional schools and colleges subject to recognized accrediting agencies are fully accredited by the appropriate national organization. The University is a member of the Association of Public and Land- Grant Universities.
The University is governed by The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama (the “Board”), a body corporate under Alabama Law. The Board also governs The University of Alabama at Birmingham and The University of Alabama in Huntsville, which, along with the University, make up The University of Alabama System (the “System”). The Board determines policy and approves operating budgets, educational programs, facilities and capital financings for each campus, and sets the separate tuition and fee schedules applicable at each campus. Oversight responsibilities of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (“ACHE”) and annual requests for appropriations from the Alabama legislature are coordinated for each campus by the Chancellor of the System with the approval of the Board.
Overview of Financial Statements
The University’s financial report includes three basic financial statements: the Statement of Net Position; the Statement of Revenues, Expenses, and Changes in Net Position; and the Statement of Cash Flows. The University’s financial statements encompass the University and its blended component unit, The Crimson Tide Foundation (“CTF”). The aggregate financial statements of six affiliated foundations are presented discretely from the University:
- National Alumni Association
- Law School Foundation
- Donor Advised Fund
- Capstone Foundation
- 1831 Foundation
- Capstone Health Services Foundation
The MD&A focuses solely on the University and the Crimson Tide Foundation. Information on discretely presented component units can be found in the component units’ annual financial reports, as well as Note 2 – Component Units. The notes to the financial statements provide additional information that is essential to a full understanding of the financial statements. A summary of new accounting standards and their anticipated effects concludes the notes with brief summations of recently issued statements of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (“GASB”).
Statements of Net Position
The statements of net position present the financial position of the University at the end of the fiscal year. These statements reflect the various assets, deferred outflows, liabilities, deferred inflows, and net position of the University as of the fiscal years ended September 30, 2017 and 2016.
From the data presented, readers of the statements of net position have the information to determine the assets available to continue the operations of the University. They may also determine how much the University owes vendors, bondholders, and lending institutions. In addition, the statements of net position outline the net position (assets and deferred outflows minus liabilities and deferred inflows) available to the University.
Net position is divided into three major categories. The first category, net investment in capital assets, provides the University’s equity in property, plant and equipment owned by the University. The second category is restricted net position, which is divided into two categories, non-expendable and expendable. The corpus of non-expendable restricted resources, as it pertains to endowments, is only available for investment purposes. The earnings on these funds support the programs and activities as determined by the donors, typically to fund scholarships and fellowships. Expendable restricted resources are available for expenditure by the University but must be spent for purposes as determined by donors and/or external entities that have placed time or purpose restrictions on the use of the assets. The last category, unrestricted net position, presents the net position available to the University for any lawful purpose of the University and is typically internally designated or committed for specific academic programs or initiatives.
At September 30, 2017, the University’s assets and deferred outflows of resources were $4.4 billion, liabilities and deferred inflows of resources were $2.3 billion, leaving a net position of $2.1 billion, an overall increase in net position of $224.3 million from 2016. The overall increase in net position results in part from tuition growth, an increase in auxiliary units’ profitability, and unrealized investment gains generated by favorable market performance.
Cond SNP (MD&A spreadsheet)
The University’s Assets
Current assets are used to support the University’s normal operations and include cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments available for operating purposes, net accounts receivable (primarily student accounts receivable, receivables from sponsoring agencies and accrued interest receivable), prepaid expenses, and unearned scholarships.
The University considers all highly liquid investments with an original maturity of three months or less to be cash equivalents. Current cash and cash equivalents totaled $58.9 million at September 30, 2017, an increase of $357,000 from the prior year. At September 30, 2016, cash and cash equivalents totaled $58.5 million, a decrease of $12.0 million from the prior year. Current cash balances fluctuate based on operating needs, timing of expenditures, and cash management strategies.
Short-term investments include both unrestricted and restricted balances. Unrestricted short-term investments were $222.4 million, $173.7 million, and $212.6 million at September 30, 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. These investments are available for operating purposes. Restricted short-term investments were $84.6 million, $120.9 million, and $77.1 million at September 30, 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. Restricted short-term investments are comprised of deposits held and invested by the University relating to the Gulf State Park Project. During fiscal year 2017, the University of Alabama entered into an agreement with the State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (“DCNR”) to provide financial services for the Gulf State Park Project (previously the agreement had been between the DCNR and the University of Alabama System Office). The University deposits and disburses the funds authorized by the DCNR. The University did not receive additional funds for the Gulf State Park Project in fiscal year 2017; however, total short-term investments increased $12.4 million from the prior year. This follows an increase of $4.8 million during fiscal year 2016 related to funds received for the Gulf State Park Project.
Accounts receivable increased approximately $14.2 million in fiscal year 2017 due to a $16.6 million increase in the CTF accounts receivable balance. The majority of this increase relates to a receivable between the University and its blended component unit, CTF, at June 30, 2017. Due to the timing of the payment after CTF’s June 30 year end, it was a receivable for CTF at June 30, 2017, but not a payable for UA at September 30, 2017. In fiscal year 2016 accounts receivable decreased $12.8 million primarily due to student account activity.
Prepaid expenses and unearned scholarships experienced growth of $9.9 million in 2017, resulting from an increase in unearned scholarships. Unearned scholarship expense results from the Fall academic term spanning across the fiscal year-end. The University prorates scholarship expense to recognize only the amounts incurred in each fiscal year. Fall 2017 classes started a week later than in the prior year, thus more scholarships were deferred to fiscal year 2018. This, coupled with the growth in enrollment, contributed to an increase in current unearned scholarships at September 30, 2017. In the prior year, prepaid expenses and unearned scholarships increased $6.9 million, also due in large part to unearned scholarships.
Noncurrent assets are predominantly composed of endowment and life income investments, investments for capital activities, other long-term investments, notes receivable (net), and capital assets (net).
The University’s investment portfolio is principally invested in three separate investment pools sponsored by the System. The University’s investment approach is intended to maximize current investment returns consistent with annual liquidity needs while protecting principal. The University adopts the broad objective of investing assets to preserve their real value, enhance the purchasing power of income, and keep pace with inflation and evolving University needs. Total noncurrent investments increased $260.2 million at September 30, 2017. During fiscal year 2017, the University issued new bonds which contributed to a $160.5 million increase in investments for capital activities. Additionally, the University experienced a rise in unrealized gains due to favorable market performance. This follows an increase of $58.8 million in noncurrent investments at September 30, 2016, also due to unrealized gains as well as an increase in investments.
Noncurrent notes receivable increased $9.1 million due to the issuance of an additional student organization housing loan, which follows an increase of $25.4 million in fiscal year 2016, also related to the issuance of student organization housing loans.
Capital assets include land and land improvements, infrastructure, buildings and improvements, equipment, construction in progress, library materials, collections and intangible assets. The construction of new buildings on campus contributed to a rise in capital assets of $79.2 million in fiscal year 2017 and $93.1 million during 2016. During fiscal year 2015, the University had the opportunity to purchase property within close proximity to the main campus from the Alabama Department of Mental Health (“ADMH”), which allows the University to devote more of its core campus to academic and student life activities. The total purchase, commonly referred to as the Partlow Property, encompasses approximately 362 acres and is composed of both land and associated buildings. As part of the purchase agreement, the University leases back some of the buildings to the ADMH who continues to operate the mental health facilities. The leaseback period is 99 years. Capital spending remains a priority to provide the necessary facilities needed to accommodate both present and future enrollment growth. Recent land acquisitions allow for unique opportunities to expand and further beautify our historic campus. As outlined in the University’s Master Plan, the University seeks to “unify the campus as a complete learning environment, interwoven into a gracious and hospitable setting that both nurtures the soul and inspires the mind.”
Major capital expenditures in 2017 include Student Organizations (refer to note 5) ($22.7 million), Freshman Residential Housing ($11.2 million), Little Hall renovation ($8.3 million), Central Campus Thermal Energy Connection ($7.0 million), University Boulevard improvements ($6.3 million), and the Adapted Athletics facility ($6.0 million).
Major capital expenditures in 2016 include Student Organizations (refer to note 5) ($39.5 million), North Lawn Hall ($21.7 million), Peter Bryce Boulevard and North Campus Way ($16.8 million), Sewell Thomas Baseball Stadium renovation ($12.3 million), Moody Music Building addition and renovation ($9.7 million), Printing and Mail Services renovation and relocation ($9.5 million), and Bryant Drive retail center ($7.7 million).
A deferred outflow of resources is a use of net position that is applicable to future reporting periods. The University’s deferred outflows of resources consist of both bond deferred refunding amounts and pension obligations. Pension obligations include:
- Employer contributions to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Alabama cost-sharing multiple-employer public employee retirement plan (the “Plan”)subsequent tothe Plan’s measurement date
- Changes in proportion of the allocated pension liability and differences between employer contributions and the employer’s proportionate share of the total contributions
- Changes of actuarial assumptions, including discount rate
- Net difference between projected and actual earnings on pension plan investments
At September 30, 2017, the University’s total deferred outflows of resources increased $32.2 million, resulting from changes in the proportion of the allocated pension liability as well as changes in the discount rate and actuarial assumptions used by the Teachers’ Retirement System of Alabama. Additionally, the University defeased certain indebtedness during fiscal year 2017. At September 30, 2016, the University’s deferred outflows of resources increased $59.7 million, largely resulting from changes in proportion of the allocated pension liability.
The University’s Liabilities
Current liabilities consist primarily of accounts payable, accrued liabilities, unearned revenue, and deposits. The majority of accounts payable and accrued liabilities represent amounts owed for salaries, wages and benefits, and supplies and services. Accounts payable and accrued liabilities increased $14.4 million in 2017 from the prior year. This follows a decrease of $9.0 million in 2016. Unearned revenue consists primarily of tuition and housing revenues for the portion of the fall semester that occurs after September 30, and football ticket revenue for the portion of the season which occurs after September 30. Fall 2017 classes started a week later than in the prior year, thus more revenue was deferred to fiscal year 2018. This, coupled with the growth in enrollment, contributed to an increase in current unearned revenue of $36.2 million in fiscal year 2017. This follows an increase of $6.1 million in fiscal year 2016. Deposits consist primarily of agency funds, food service deposits, debit card operation deposits and Capstone Village entrance fees. Deposits decreased $43.4 million at September 30, 2017 due to expenditures for the Gulf State Park Project. At September 30, 2016 deposits increased $42.2 million which includes funds received for the Gulf State Park Project.
The University’s long-term debt and pension liability comprise the majority of its noncurrent liabilities. Long-term debt (current and noncurrent combined) increased $122.6 million in fiscal year 2017 due to the new 2017A, 2017B and 2017C bond issuances, offset by payments and defeasances. This follows a decrease of $25.3 million in 2016 due to debt repayments. In 2017, the University’s proportionate share of the net pension liability in the Teachers’ Retirement System Plan increased by $50.6 million to $623.4 million, following a $100.7 million increase from 2015.
A deferred inflow of resources is the acquisition of net position in future periods. The University’s deferred inflows of resources are composed of the proportionate share of the net difference between expected and actual experience. At September 30, 2017, deferred inflows of resources increased $13.0 million to $16.1 million. This follows a decrease of $32.3 million in fiscal year 2016.
The University’s Net Position
Net position represents the residual interest in the University’s assets and deferred outflows of resources after all liabilities and deferred inflows of resources are deducted. The University’s net position increased $224.3 million, or 11.7%, during fiscal 2017, totaling $2.1 billion. In fiscal year 2016, net position increased $141.4 million, or 8.0%, totaling $1.9 billion.
Net investment in capital assets increased $74.1 million from $1.0 billion in 2016. The previous year increase of $74.8 million rose from $927.8 million reported in 2015. Net investment in capital assets consists of capital assets, net of accumulated depreciation, reduced by the outstanding balances of debt attributable to the acquisition, construction or improvement of those assets.
Restricted nonexpendable net position increased approximately $31.8 million primarily due to gifts and earnings on true endowment corpus funds. This net position type encompasses true endowments and life income/annuities that are required to be held in perpetuity. In the prior year, restricted nonexpendable net position experienced growth of $17.6 million.
Restricted expendable net position increased $67.6 million in 2017 largely due to higher mineral rights and timber land valuations, true endowment gains, and an increase in restricted quasi endowments. This follows a decrease of $9.6 million in 2016 primarily as a result of lower appraisal values of the University’s endowed timber land and the adoption of GASB 72 (see note 1 and note 4). This net position category includes restricted gifts, institutional loan funds, sponsored programs, restricted quasi endowments, term endowments, endowment income and unrealized appreciation, and restricted plant funds. Restricted expendable net position is restricted by externally-imposed constraints.
Unrestricted net position increased $50.8 million in fiscal year 2017 due to unrealized gains, unrestricted quasi endowments, and an increase in CTF unrestricted net position. In the prior year, unrestricted net position increased $58.7 million due to auxiliary revenue, unrealized gains, and unrestricted quasi endowments.
The University carefully navigates the investment environment and works diligently to manage its financial resources effectively. Endowment spending has remained stable. With a continual commitment to excellence, we expect funding given by the University’s generous donors will continue to grow, leveraging those gifts for the benefit of our students for many years to come.
In 2017, the University’s endowments grew $102.1 million to reach $785.4 million. The growth results from additions to the endowment of $23.7 million and unrealized gains. This follows an increase of $10.9 million in 2016 resulting from additions to the endowment of $18.9 million, offset by an overall net unrealized loss for endowments due to lower appraisal values of the University’s timber land and minerals.
Statements of Revenues, Expenses and Changes in Net Position
The statements of revenues, expenses and changes in net position (“SRECNP”) present the revenues received by the University, both operating and nonoperating, and the expenses paid by the University, both operating and nonoperating, and any other revenues and expenses received or expended by the University. Primary components of the University’s operating revenue sources are tuition and fees and auxiliary sales and services, which are generated from self-supporting departments including Intercollegiate Athletics, residence halls, food service operations, and the UA Supply Store. Additionally, the University seeks funding from the federal and state governments and sponsored programs in support of its mission of teaching, research, and service. Other significant revenue sources, which are considered nonoperating as defined by the GASB, include State educational appropriations, private gifts, investment income, and Federal Pell grants.
Operating expenses are those incurred in conjunction with the fulfillment of the University’s mission and include salaries, wages and benefits; supplies and services; depreciation; and scholarships and fellowships. The SRECNP also includes other changes affecting its net position including capital gifts and grants, additions to permanent endowments, and intragovernmental transfers between the University and CTF, its blended component unit, and other state agencies.
Revenues and expenses are recognized when earned or incurred, regardless of when cash is received or paid. A summary of the University’s revenues, expenses and changes in net position follows:
Cond SRECNP (MD&A spreadsheet)
The University’s net position increased $224.3 million, $141.4 million, and $75.4 million, for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. Improved market performance resulted in investment gains in fiscal years 2017 and 2016, which significantly increased the University’s net position both years as compared to fiscal year 2015 when the market performed poorly. As noted in the SRECNP, the University experienced operating losses in all fiscal years presented of $183.3, $130.4 million, and $117.3 million, respectively. These operating losses highlight the University’s dependency on nonoperating revenues, such as State educational appropriations and private gifts, to meet its cost of operations.
Net tuition and fees reflect the steady increases in tuition related to continued enrollment growth coupled with modest tuition rate increases. Net tuition and fees in 2017 was $482.8 million, a $6.0 million increase over 2016’s $476.7 million, which increased $24.0 million over $452.7 million in 2015. Tuition rates are reviewed annually by the University and presented to the Board for approval.
The University receives grant and contract revenue from federal, state, and local governments and private agencies. These funds are used to further the mission of the University – to advance the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state, the nation and the world through the creation, translation and dissemination of knowledge with an emphasis on quality programs in the areas of teaching, research and service. The following chart reflects the funding sources for federal operating grant and contract revenues for the years ended September 30:
Fed C&G (MD&A spreadsheet)
Federal grants and contracts decreased by $1.5 million and $1.7 million in 2017 and 2016, respectively, which reflects a decrease in federal funding for instruction and research. State and local grants and contracts decreased slightly by $71,000 in 2017 following a $2.9 million increase in 2016 collectively. Private grants and contracts decreased $1.3 million in 2017, following a $73,000 increase in the prior year.
The University’s auxiliary activities are comprised of Intercollegiate Athletics, food service, housing, the UA Supply Store, telecommunications, and other miscellaneous auxiliary enterprises. Auxiliary income increased $8.4 million, primarily from athletic income and licensing income. The 2017 increase follows a $21.2 million increase in the prior year, also due to the aforementioned auxiliary units, as well as increases in housing income and Supply Store income.
Other operating revenue for the University totaled $28.7 million, while CTF revenue of $30.6 million contributed to the combined total of $59.3 million as reported in 2017, an increase of $3.5 million from the prior year, largely due to an increase in CTF revenues. In 2016, other operating revenue increased slightly by $29,000.
Non-Operating Revenues and Expenses
Due to the required classification of key revenue sources such as State appropriations, financial aid grants, and private gifts as non-operating revenues, the University’s operating expenses will typically exceed operating revenues, resulting in an operating loss. These non-operating revenues are essential in offsetting the operating loss.
In fiscal year 2017, the University received $154.8 million in State educational appropriations for operating purposes, an increase of $6.4 million. In 2016, the University received $148.4 million, which was an increase of $2.2 million from 2015.
Gift revenue for the University totaled $56.1 million at September 30, 2017, of which $31.3 million was recorded by the Crimson Tide Foundation. This was an increase of $3.9 million from the prior year due to an increase in CTF gifts. Gift revenues decreased $1.5 million in 2016 to $52.2 million due to a decline in CTF gifts.
Nonoperating grants consist primarily of Federal Pell grant awards. This program provides financial assistance grants to qualifying undergraduate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Also included in nonoperating grants are Build America Bond and Recovery Zone Economic Development Bond interest reimbursements. In 2017, nonoperating grant revenue increased slightly to $31.6 million, following a small decrease to $31.1 million in 2016.
Both investment and endowment income are combined as investment income on the SRECNP. The University posted net investment income of $159.7 million at September 30, 2017, an increase of $105.0 million as the University posted substantial unrealized gains following a positive market performance, coupled with an increase in the mineral rights and timber land valuations. In fiscal year 2016, the University posted net investment income of $54.7 million, an increase of $96.5 million from fiscal year 2015, also due to unrealized gains.
The University reports natural classifications of expenditures in the SRECNP. Salaries, wages and benefits increased $53.8 million to $666.3 million in 2017 from $612.5 million in 2016, which was a $37.0 million increase over $575.5 million in 2015. The University is committed to recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, staff and graduate students. New positions are strategically added to accommodate student enrollment growth. Compensation packages and benefit offerings provide leverage for the University to successfully compete with peer institutions and employers outside of the academic sector. Additionally, in fiscal year 2017, the University’s GASB 68 adjustment to pension expense increased $31.8 million resulting from changes in the discount rate and actuarial assumptions used by the Teachers’ Retirement System of Alabama.
Supplies and services experienced an increase of $5.0 million during fiscal year 2017. Factors contributing to the increase include a rise in advertising, program development and marketing expenditures, as well as an increase in the Capstone Village future services obligation. This follows an increase of $20.9 million from 2015 due to a rise in athletic post-season participation expenditures and renewal and replacement projects performed during the year.
Scholarships and fellowships expense is reported net of scholarship allowances. The net expenses of $24.6 million, $20.4 million, and $23.5 million for fiscal years 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively, represent payments made directly to students after awards have been applied against tuition and fees and auxiliary housing charged to student accounts. Gross scholarship expenses totaled $268.1 million, $245.0 million, and $214.4 million for the years ended September 30, 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively.
OperExp.Nat (MD&A spreadsheet)
In addition to natural classifications, operating expenses are reported by functional classifications as defined by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (“NACUBO”). The functional classification of an operating expense (Instruction, Research, etc.) is assigned to a department based on the nature of the activity, which represents the material portion of the activity attributable to the department. This method reflects, by function of the University, amounts expended in areas such as instruction, research, and operations and maintenance and is used most commonly for comparative reporting purposes among colleges and universities.
OperExp.Func (MD&A spreadsheet)
Other Changes in Net Position
Capital gifts and grants experienced a slight increase of $131,000 in fiscal year 2017, following an increase of $15.4 million in fiscal year 2016. The large 2016 increase resulted from grants received for the construction of Peter Bryce Boulevard/North Campus Way and improvements to University Boulevard in that fiscal year.
Additions to permanent endowments grew by $4.8 million in 2017 due to restricted endowment gifts made throughout the year. This follows a slight decrease of $479,000 in fiscal year 2016.
Intragovernmental transfers are typically limited to transactions with the Crimson Tide Foundation, a blended component unit of the University. At September 30, 2017, intragovernmental transfers had increased $6.8 million from the prior year. At September 30, 2016 intragovernmental transfers had decreased $27.1 million from the prior year. The prior year decrease results from the purchase of the Partlow properties from the ADMH in fiscal year 2015. Because this was a purchase between two state agencies for operating purposes, the difference between the transferor’s net book value and the purchase price was considered an intragovernmental transfer, resulting in an increase of $21.8 million in 2015, followed by a decrease in 2016.
Capital Assets and Debt Administration
At September 30, 2017, the University had $2.8 billion invested in gross capital assets and accumulated depreciation of $786.7 million, a net of $2.0 billion. At September 30, 2016, the University had $2.6 billion invested in gross capital assets and accumulated depreciation of $723.6 million, a net of $1.9 billion. At September 30, 2015, the University had $2.5 billion invested in gross capital assets and accumulated depreciation of $688.4 million, a net of $1.8 billion. Depreciation expense for fiscal years 2017, 2016, and 2015 totaled $72.4 million, $67.4 million, and $61.2 million, respectively. Buildings and fixed equipment are responsible for the largest increase for each year presented. The following schedule summarizes the University’s capital assets, net of accumulated depreciation:
CapAssets (MD&A spreadsheet)
Capital asset expenditures for fiscal year 2017 (in millions):
Student Organizations (refer to note 5) $22.7
Freshman Residential Housing $11.2
Little Hall renovation $8.3
Central Campus Thermal Energy Connection $7.0
University Boulevard improvements $6.3
Adapted Athletics Facility $6.0
Capital asset expenditures for fiscal year 2016 (in millions):
Student Organizations (refer to note 5) $39.5
North Lawn Hall $21.7
Peter Bryce Boulevard/North Campus Way $16.8
Sewell Thomas Baseball Stadium $12.3
Moody Music Building $9.7
Printing and Mail Services $9.5
Bryant Drive Retail Center $7.7
The University plans to fund ongoing construction projects with reserves, debt proceeds, private gifts, and various federal and state grants.
At September 30, 2017, the University had $1.1 billion of debt outstanding, of which $32.3 million was classified as current. The University issued the 2017A, 2017B and 2017C bonds during fiscal year 2017, resulting in an increase in outstanding debt from the prior year. At September 30, 2016, the University had $951.0 million of debt outstanding, of which $24.9 million was classified as current. The University had $976.3 million of debt outstanding at September 30, 2015, of which $24.1 million was classified as current. The large majority of debt obligations bears interest at fixed rates ranging from 0.0% to 6.3% and matures at various dates through fiscal year 2047. The University defeased certain indebtedness during the fiscal year 2017 bond issuance to secure more favorable rates. This is discussed further in note 7.
The University’s outstanding debt obligations at September 30, 2017, 2016, and 2015, exclusive of debt discounts and premiums of $43.1 million, $34.7 million, and $36.6 million, respectively, are summarized below. Further information may also be found in note 7.
LTD (MD&A spreadsheet)
Future Economic Outlook
The University has positioned itself to weather the uncertain times our economy experiences. Prudent management, cost containment, conservative budgeting, and sensible investment strategies help ensure the University can remain dedicated to its mission of teaching, research, and service.
A crucial element to the University’s future will continue to be our relationship with the State of Alabama as we work to maintain competitive tuition while providing an outstanding college education for our students. We continuously strive to attract the best students, while increasing the intrinsic and marketable value of education offered at The University of Alabama.
A direct relationship exists between the growth of state support and the University’s ability to control tuition rates. There can be no assurance of future state appropriations. The University expects to be able to absorb this loss of state funds, without a material reduction of its budget, through a combination of increased tuition, increased enrollment and internal reserves. State appropriations are not, and cannot lawfully be, pledged under debt indentures. Major financial strengths of the University include a diverse source of revenues, including state appropriations, tuition and fees (net of scholarship allowances), auxiliary units’ revenue, private support, and federally sponsored grants and contracts.
The University must have campus facilities that are competitive to meet student enrollment goals. The University continues to execute its long-term plan to modernize and expand its teaching, research, and student facilities with a balance of new construction and technology. The continuous improvement of the University’s aesthetic appeal offers visitors, current and prospective students, employees and the surrounding communities an attractive and appealing atmosphere in which to live and work.
The University’s private support is fundamental in meeting budgetary needs. Gifts received are testaments to the high regard in which alumni, corporations, foundations, and other supporters hold the University. The level of private support underscores the continued confidence among donors in the quality of the University’s programs and the importance of its mission. At the same time, economic pressures and potential tax law changes affecting donors may also affect the future level of support the University receives from corporate and individual giving. Our component units have also continued their level of support in the face of the current economic environment.
Enrollment and Statistics (Unaudited)*
The University of Alabama has ranked among the top 60 public universities in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings for more than a decade, standing at 51st in the 2018 rankings. More than 40 percent of the Fall 2017 freshman class scored 30 or higher on the ACT, and 34 percent of the entering class had a high school GPA of 4.0 or higher. The University of Alabama is also a leader among public universities nationwide in the enrollment of National Merit Scholars with more than 500 currently enrolled. University students continue to win prestigious national awards. 51 University of Alabama students have been named Goldwater Scholars, including four in 2017. The University of Alabama has produced a total of 15 Rhodes Scholars, 16 Truman Scholars, 32 Hollings Scholars and 11 Boren Scholars.
Enrollment at the University continues to grow, reaching 37,665 in Fall 2016, an increase of 565 over the prior year. Full-time equivalent (“FTE”) enrollment totaled 35,120, an increase of 581. The chart below displays enrollment counts taken for each fall semester; the last of which (2016), demonstrates enrollment figures occurring for the fall semester of the 2017 fiscal year.
Statistics (MD&A spreadsheet)