CHICAGO — Standard & Poor's last week revised its outlook to negative on the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees, warning that the university -- one of the state's largest -- faces growing pressure from its debt load.

Standard & Poor's affirmed its A long-term rating on the university's outstanding debt. The school is expected to privately place $68.4 million of bonds within the next month and float roughly $70 million of debt in the public market, the ratings firm said.

The negative outlook reflects risks associated with the $140 million of new debt, as well as starting and running a new medical school, coupled with a flat enrollment trend, ratings analyst Jessica Wood said in a ratings release.

Those factors "pressure the university's available resources and place it at its debt capacity for the current rating," Wood wrote.

The privately placed bonds will be secured by a gift to the new medical school and not by the university's general revenues, according to S&P.

The university will have roughly $450 million of debt after the upcoming transactions.

WMU is one of Michigan's 15 public universities.

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