Turmoil in the credit markets has reduced the availability of student loans and left smaller, less-wealthy colleges and universities that are heavily dependent on tuition revenues most vulnerable to any significant disruption in the student loan market, according to a report released this week by Moody's Investors Service.

The most vulnerable schools - which typically have enrollment under 2,000 and depend on tuition for about 75% of their revenues - have limited financial recourse if tuition is not paid on time by the budgeted number of enrolled students, compared to larger and wealthier public and private institutions. The at-risk schools are mostly rated in the Baa category, Moody's said, and private institutions rated in that category have about $5 billion in outstanding debt.

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