Financial Innovations Help Universities Tackle Campus Construction Projects

Tim Goral's picture

With groundbreaking innovations in financing higher education campus construction, Kentucky public universities have undertaken hundreds of millions of dollars in capital projects in recent years – even as a recessionary economy caused multiple rounds of cuts in traditional state funds.

The most innovative approaches financially were developed for campus housing projects, an area of particular need but also one with its own revenue stream.

Also previously unheard of is the level of cooperation among the public universities in jointly requesting bonding authority for 11 projects at six of the eight state schools, which prompted happy legislators and the governor to OK the $388 million in plan in record time.

With the exception of four emergency projects, the Kentucky General Assembly last appropriated General Fund dollars for capital construction or capital renewal projects on a state university campus in 2008.

And public higher ed institutions in the commonwealth already were billions behind in capital needs, according an assessment by VFA Inc., a Boston firm the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), the state universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System hired in 2007 to assess their physical infrastructure.

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