Higher Education Finance is one of our core specialty banking practices and we are proud of the diverse group of over 200 public and private higher education clients we serve. Our team delivers a full complement of products and services, local expertise, and exceptional service and execution to college and university clients nationwide. The projects that we have financed range from academic and research buildings, to student and athletic facilities to technology and infrastructure improvements. We have a team that specializes in privatized student housing and other public/private partnership opportunities.

Fast Facts: Higher Education Finance Group

  • Dedicated higher education coverage nationwide
  • Perennially a top-ranked higher education lead manager
    of negotiated issues
  • Ability to provide credit and liquidity facilities, direct purchases and derivative products directly from a stable and highly rated counterparty
  • Specialists in select product areas, including privatized student housing

Areas of Expertise

We are a leading underwriter to the sector. Our core capabilities include traditional university housing and general receipts revenue bonds, certificates of participation and project based housing financings. Additionally, our team was instrumental in developing the privatized student housing financing model currently being used throughout the industry.

  Investment Banking

  • Corporate IG Bond Underwriting
  • Tax-Exempt Bond Underwriting (U.S.)
  • Private Placements
  • Corporate Banking and Syndicated Credit
  • Derivative Structuring and Strategies

  Advisory and M&A

  • Debt portfolio structure and liquidity strategies
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Affiliation advisor to higher education institutions seeking partnerships
  • Strategic advisor to bondholders of distressed higher education institutions
  • Solicitation of Equity Capital

 P3 and Asset Monetization

  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Privatized Student Housing
  • Asset Sale and Sale-Leaseback Strategies

  Comprehensive Distribution Capabilities

RBC’s higher education clients also benefit from an extensive securities distribution network that provides access to a broad base of taxable and tax-exempt investors for college and university credits. This includes a geographically diverse institutional sales force, a New York-based short-term market group and an extensive retail sales force. Our extensive platform is complemented by a full suite of in-house municipal products and related services, including:

  • Liquidity facilities and LOC’s for variable rate demand bonds
  • Tax-exempt direct purchases
  • Investment and cash management solutions
  • Academic medical center specialists
  • Term loans, revolving lines of credit and bridge loans
  • Comprehensive menu of derivative products
  • Privatized student housing specialists
  • Full-service commodity sales and trading platform

Case Studies

$135.9 million

General Receipts Bonds, Series 2014A

$150 million

Variable Rate Demand Bonds, Series 2014B-1 and 2014B-2

RBCCM has a strong history with the University and has been consistently involved in $1.5 billion in financings since 2008. In additon to the Series 2014 bonds, RBCCM served as Joint Bookrunning Senior Manager on the Universitys $630.8 million Series 2016 A and B taxable and tax-exempt financings. Furthermore, RBCCM senior managed $128 million Series 2008 B (Variable Rate) Bonds and serves as remarketing agent for the issue. Stratford Shields, who joined RBCCM in 2014, worked with OSU as its advisor to structure the privatization of the University’s parking facilites, in which operations were leased for QIC Global Infrastructure for 50-years, realizing $483 million for OSU, and has served as lead banker for more than $1.5 billion for the University.

The Series 2014 transactions, for which RBCCM served as joint bookrunning senior manager and remarketing agent reflect our ability to advise a client in navigating tax-status and mode preference during shifting market conditions. In October 2014, RBCCM served as joint bookrunning senior manager on the $135.985 million Series 2014A Bonds, joint lead senior manager on the $75 million Series 2014B-1 Bonds, and lead underwriter and remarketing agent on the $75 million Series 2014B-2 Bonds.. The use of proceeds included completion of a Medical Center expansion project and financing of academic infrastructure. The Board of Trustees approved a $2.0 billion capital plan in 2010, of which $1.6 billion was expected to be debt financed, including this transaction. In the period leading to the financing, the University contemplated the use of taxable century bonds as well as tax-exempt amortizing debt, and sought to determine the appropriate balance between fixed and variable rate debt in the context of the debt portfolio and overall capital plan. RBCCM’s market commentary and structuring advice leading up to the offering ultimately resulted in the issuance of a traditional split tax-exempt fixed rate and tax-exempt variable rate transaction.

$213.7 million

Tax Exempt General Revenue Bonds, Series 2015C

$42 million

Taxable Revenue Bonds, Series 2015C

In September 2015, RBCCM served as senior managing underwriter on the largest bond issue in the University’s history. This transaction further solidifies RBCCM’s relationship with the University, which includes senior managing the April 2014 issuance and presenting concession financing alternatives for University assets.

The University had undertaken extensive planning and analysis related to $245 million of strategic accretive capital improvements related to a significant expansion to the iconic Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, after numerous assessments of capital needs and the University’s competitive strengths. Furthermore, the University has made a differentiating investment in Residential Colleges ($80 million); the first university in the Big 12 and one of the first public universities to adopt this mode. Further capital expansion for Parking System, Utility/Facility Systems, Campus and Technology Infrastructure are planned (totaling $48 million)

RBCCM worked extensively with the University to refine the plan of finance, including a strategic structuring of the taxable bonds to incur the lowest cost, and crafted comprehensive rating agency and investor presentations to communicate the University’s unique objectives to external constituents. There was robust retail and institutional demand for the University’s issuance. In April 2014, RBCCM served as book-running senior manager for the University of Oklahoma $89,185,000 Tax-Exempt General Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2014C. The fixed rate issue generated strong retail interest. The University’s bonds were priced during a relatively quiet week with total supply around $4 billion which included large transactions for the University of California and the University of Texas System.

The purpose of the issue was a current refunding of outstanding indebtedness; the University achieved $12.4 million (13.2%) NPV savings of particular relevance to the University is RBCCM’s ability to partner with a syndicate composed of 3 co-managers to achieve the best and broadest distribution of a University’s bonds.

Recent Transactions

Privatized Higher Education

Our Privatized Higher Education Finance Group provides comprehensive financing solutions through public-private partnerships for our college and university clients and their non-profit, development and management partners for a wide variety of capital projects, including student housing, dining, parking and other auxiliary facilities, using an array of taxable and tax-exempt debt structures, as well as various equity options.

Since 2013, we have completed 23 transactions totaling more than $1.3 billion in par amount, making RBC Capital Markets the number one ranked investment bank in number of transactions and par amount in the country.

Case Studies

$371 million

New Hope Cultural Facilities Finance Corporation
Student Housing Revenue Bonds

From 2013 to 2016, RBCCM served as the sole manager on approximately $371 million of tax-exempt and taxable, fixed rate bonds issued by the New Hope Cultural Facilities Finance Corporation on behalf of various limited liability corporations (collectively the “Borrowers”), the sole member of which is Collegiate Housing Foundation, to provide financing for the construction and renovation of nine new privatized student housing facilities to be located on the campuses of Texas A&M University at College Station, Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and Texas A&M – San Antonio (the “Universities”).

Net bond proceeds funded the new construction and renovation of 5,388 beds in nine residence hall facilities being developed on the campuses of the Universities to address the growing demand for convenient, affordable, high amenity student-oriented housing throughout the Texas A&M University System. Bond proceeds also fund the acquisition of existing student housing at Tarleton State University, capitalized interest on the bonds through the anticipated stabilization of each of the projects, debt service reserve funds, and issuance costs.

Each transaction was structured based on the privatized student housing model, whereby the University System entered into long-term ground leases with the Borrowers and directed the Borrowers to enter into a variety of financing and development documents providing for the design, development, ownership and operation of the projects. As such, each bond issue is secured solely by the revenues and assets of the respective projects and is rated Baa3 and/or BBB- by Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services, respectively.

RBCCM engaged in an extensive pre-marketing campaign for each of the issues, which included formal investor presentations facilitated through web-based and teleconferencing services. RBCCM took an aggressive approach to structuring the bonds, utilizing a combination of insured and unenhanced bonds, where appropriate, to maximize demand for the bonds. As a result, RBCCM received strong demand from both retail and institutional investors, successfully selling each of the transactions in full public offerings. In each of the offerings, RBCCM had orders from a wide mix of institutional accounts as well as a significant book from retail investors, resulting in oversubscriptions of many of the issue with some oversubscriptions of up to 12 times. In only one instance did RBCCM have to underwrite unsold bonds and only in the amount of $6.7 million. As a result, the final bond yield for the 32-year, fixed rate bonds ranged from a high of 5.93% to a low of 3.24%.


East Hempfield Township Industrial Development Authority
Revenue Bonds

From 2013 to 2015, RBCCM served as sole manager on $141 million of tax-exempt, fixed rate bond issues to provide financing for three phases of construction for a privatized student housing community on the campus of Millersville University of Pennsylvania. The bonds were issued by the East Hempfield Township Industrial Development Authority and the proceeds loaned to Student Services, Inc. (the “Borrower”), a Pennsylvania not for profit corporation established to support the endeavors of the University, to provide funds to demolish nearly all of the University’s existing 2,200 beds of housing and replace the facilities with 1,900 beds of new, suite style accommodations.

Utilizing an approach developed in part by RBCCM to be used across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for the financing of new student housing improvements, the University entered into a long-term ground lease with the Borrower and the Borrower, in turn, entered into a variety of agreements providing for the design, development, construction, equipment and financing of each phase of the housing replacement plan. With each subsequent financing, the ground lease was amended to include additional parcels of land on which the additional facilities would be built. The University and Corporation also entered into a long-term management agreement for the ongoing operation of the facilities. The bonds are secured solely by project revenues and assets.

RBCCM engaged in an extensive pre-marketing campaign for the issue, which included a formal investor presentation facilitated through web-based and teleconferencing services. Pre-and post-sale investor site visits were also held at various times throughout the process. As a result of a well-executed marketing plan and extensive investor outreach, RBCCM successfully sold each of the bond issues the transaction through full public offerings, receiving orders from a wide mix of institutional accounts. As a result, the final bond yield for the 32-year, fixed rate bonds ranged from a high of 4.83% to a low of 4.01%.

Recent Transactions

Our Team

National Coverage

Michael Baird

Managing Director
Privatized Higher Education


Mr. Baird is a Director in the Baltimore Municipal Finance office of RBC Capital Markets.

Mr. Baird joined RBC Capital Markets in 2003, after having worked for 15 years in the Municipal Finance industry. Mr. Baird has served as the investment banker or financial advisor on virtually every type of tax-exempt bond issue, including issues for state agencies, counties, cities, colleges and universities, housing agencies, and nonprofit foundations. Mr. Baird specializes in structuring innovative solutions to meet the specific needs of our higher education, housing and nonprofit clients. He has extensive experience financing and refinancing various project based funding programs, including all types of taxable and tax-exempt, fixed and variable rate structures. He has also developed an expertise in structuring project specific programs utilizing such techniques as net lease financing, public-private partnerships and various other privatization models. Some of his clients have included the State of Maryland, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the University System of Maryland, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Louisiana System, Eastern New Mexico University, Northern Illinois University, Maryland Community Development Administration, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Howard County Housing Commission, Maryland Economic Development Corporation, and Collegiate Housing Foundation.

Prior to joining RBC Capital Markets, Mr. Baird was a member of the Public Finance Groups of Legg Mason Wood Walker, William R. Hough & Co. and Alex. Brown & Sons.

Mr. Baird served on Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s Affordable Housing Transition Team and serves on the Advisory Board of Collegiate Housing Foundation. He is also a member of the Higher Education Monetization Consortium and a regular speaker on the topic of privatization at various higher education conferences.

Mr. Baird is a registered securities representative, currently holding Series 7, Series 53 and Series 63 licenses. He has an MBA and a BBA in Finance from Loyola University Maryland.


Sara Russell

Privatized Higher Education


Sara Russell is a Director in the Municipal Markets division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Her responsibilities include providing investment banking and advisory services related to the issuance of tax-exempt and taxable bonds for a variety of municipal finance and non-profit clients. She has a specialty focus in the higher education sector and significant expertise in the financing of privatized student housing. Building on her quantitative background, Ms. Russell has developed an expertise in negotiating and executing a variety of financing structures, including fixed and variable rate bonds, credit enhanced issues, public offerings and private placements for general obligation, revenue bond, lease-backed and project finance transactions. She has financed more than $3 billion in student housing and other education projects nationwide as well as more than $1 billion for other not-for-profit related financings. Some of her higher education and student housing clients have included Cleveland State University (OH), Florida Atlantic University, Franklin & Marshall College (PA), Gannon University (PA), Grambling State University (LA), Howard University (DC), Illinois State University, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Morrisville State College (NY), Northern Illinois University, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University System of Maryland, Southern Oregon University, University of Wyoming and Collegiate Housing Foundation. In addition, she has been involved with numerous financings for the State of Maryland, Maryland Economic Development Corporation and Community Development Administration of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Ms. Russell has more than a decade of experience as a public finance banker. Prior to joining RBC Capital Markets, she was a Vice President in the Public Finance Department at Legg Mason Wood Walker, Incorporated. Ms. Russell graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame of Maryland University with a degree in finance and economics and holds her Series 7 and Series 63 securities licenses.


Regional Coverage

Matt Boles

Managing Director


Mr. Boles is a Managing Director in the Dallas Municipal Finance office of RBCCM. He is a Regional Manager, overseeing the operations of our Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Denver Municipal Finance offices. He is also a member of the Firm’s Operating Committee.

Mr. Boles has been with RBCCM since 1991 and has been involved in financings during that period for a variety of issuers. In those 27 years, Mr. Boles has served as an investment banker or financial advisor to virtually every type of tax-exempt issuer, including school districts, counties, cities, public and private universities, community colleges, state agencies, healthcare providers and special districts. Mr. Boles’ experience has included all aspects of refunding and new money transactions in both long and short term modes, including virtually all types of security structures, as well as certain derivative instruments. As a manager, he is responsible for the formation and implementation of strategic initiatives for the firm’s Municipal Finance Group in Texas and Colorado.

Mr. Boles is a Certified Public Accountant and a registered securities representative, currently holding Series 7, 24, 50, 53, and 63 licenses. He previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Municipal Advisory Council of Texas (2011-2015) and as Chairman of the Board (2013-14). Mr. Boles holds a BBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a MBA from Southern Methodist University.


Kurt Freund

Managing Director
South West


Mr. Freund is a Managing Director for RBC Capital Markets, LLC, the Manager of the firm’s Arizona municipal banking operations and a member of the firm's Municipal Banking Management Committee. Mr. Freund is among the most experienced investment bankers working in the municipal finance arena and has extensive experience across a broad range of municipal financing structures. He has worked with virtually all types of issuers and political subdivisions over a career in the municipal bond industry that spans more than 25 years. During that time, he has led financings for state agencies, counties, cities, public universities, community colleges, nonprofit hospitals and a number of special financing authorities. Among the municipal entities he works extensively with in Arizona are the Governor's Office and many of the large State agencies, including the Arizona Department of Transportation, as well as all three of Arizona's public universities. Over the many years he has been in the business, Mr. Freund has developed and successfully completed many public/private partnership financings for facilities such as the University of Phoenix Football Stadium, several Cactus League baseball facilities, various mixed used developments and many other local development projects.

Prior to becoming an investment banker, Mr. Freund served in a senior staff role for seven years with the Arizona State Senate, including as the Senior Financial Advisor to the Senate where he was responsible for drafting and analyzing legislation concerning statewide tax and expenditure policy. He has developed and drafted many Arizona statutory provisions, and is regularly called upon by the Governor’s Office and the Legislative leadership and staff to provide input and advice on legislation and public policy issues.

Mr. Freund is registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. and maintains Series 7, 24, 52, 53, 63 and 79 securities licenses. He holds a Bachelors degree in economics from Arizona State University.


Christopher Good

Vice President


Christopher is a Vice President of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, with public sector investment banking experience providing debt capital markets, derivative, corporate banking and strategic solutions to higher education, health care and not-for-profit organizations.

He has completed financings and strategic assignments for a wide range of public and private higher education institutions and academic medical centers.

Additionally, Christopher has a special focus in the monetization of higher education infrastructure through public-private partnerships, as well providing strategic advice for higher education institutions considering mergers and affiliations, international partnerships and debt restructuring.

Christopher holds a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and Masters with concentration in Public Finance from the University of Pennsylvania. He holds the Series 7, 50, 63 and 79 securities licenses.


Katie Kleinfelder



Mrs. Kleinfelder is a Director in the Cincinnati, Ohio, Municipal Finance office of RBC Capital Markets.  Katie Kleinfelder has worked with municipal clientele since she began her career with Seasongood & Mayer 15 years ago. She was the first woman hired by the firm as a municipal investment banker, at which time she also completed her law degree.  As a Director with RBC Capital Markets, she works with a broad array of general obligation and revenue credits in Ohio including universities and colleges, school districts, cities, villages, counties and townships.  Her career has allowed her to gain expertise in all sectors of Ohio public finance, and she is the company’s expert on Ohio municipalities, specifically.  Katie personally analyzed and structured over $6 billion of short- and long-term financings.  She has extensive experience financing and refinancing various revenue based funding programs, including various taxable and tax-exempt, fixed and variable rate structures. 

Over the past five years, Katie has served a diverse list of municipal clients as senior managing underwriter including the following selected clients: City of Cleveland, the City of Kettering, the City of Lima, Cleveland State University, Denison University, Lakewood City School District, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Kenyon College, Middletown City School District, Northwest Local School District (Hamilton County), The Ohio State University, and Youngstown State University.         

Katie works to tailor the ideal plan of issuance considering the timing of the transaction with the current market environment, the plan of repayment, and to limit the risk of the issuer. Katie is an organized leader; her legal background has served clients well. She offers a critical eye to the bond documentation, compliance, disclosure and overall financing structure.

Katie’s prior experience includes a clerkship with Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton of the State of Ohio Supreme Court. She is an active member of the G.F.O.A. locally, and at the state and national levels. Along with her legal (admitted to the Ohio Bar) and securities licenses (Series 7, 52 and 63), Katie has a B.A. in Economics, Cum Laude, and is a graduate of the Honor’s Program of Denison University, Granville, Ohio, where she was a 9-Time All American swimmer and attained an NCAA Post Graduate Scholarship. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, College of Law.  She is the proud mother of four children ages 8, 5, 2 and 1, and resides in Montgomery, Ohio with her family.


Jon Moellenberg

Manager Director
Mountain West


Jon serves as Manager of RBC’s Denver Public Finance office, Colorado’s leading underwriter of tax-exempt and taxable municipal securities. He is charged with further expanding the firm’s presence in Colorado and throughout the Western Region. Jon has more than 15 years of experience serving state and local government clients on more than $20 billion in securities and financial products in ten different states. He frequently serves Colorado’s largest governmental entities: the State of Colorado, the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and the Denver Regional Transportation District. A list of transactions Jon has led for longstanding Colorado clients includes:

  • University of Colorado Senior Manager for $632 million Enterprise Revenue Bonds Series 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009, and Co-Senior Manager for $298 million in various series since 2009
  • Colorado State University Senior Manager for $291 million System Enterprise Revenue Bonds Series 2013 and 2012, and Co-Senior Manager for $297 million in various series since 2010
  • Colorado Department of Transportation Senior Manager for $104 million Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs) Refunding Series 2011 and Senior Manager, Co-Senior Manager or Financial Advisor for an additional $2 billion in various series of TRANs since 2000
  • Colorado Bridge Enterprise Senior Manager for its inaugural $300 million Revenue Bonds Senior Taxable Build America Series 2010A
  • Regional Transportation District Senior Manager for $224 million Certificates of Participation Series 2013A and $475 million Sales Tax Revenue Bonds Series 2012A, and Co-Senior Manager or Co-Manager on $425 million in various series since 2009
  • State of Colorado Senior Manager for $33 million Higher Ed Certificates of Participation (COPs) Series 2010 and Senior Manager or Co-Senior Manager for more than $600 million in various series of COPs since 2000

In addition to the transactions listed above, Jon brings innovative financial solutions to a wide variety of government entities. Examples include Denver Urban Renewal Authority, the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Capitol Parking Authority, the Colorado School of Mines, Metropolitan State University of Denver, cities such as Aurora and Fort Collins, counties including Adams, Broomfield, Jefferson and Routt; and numerous special districts, improvement districts and urban renewal authorities.

A fourth generation native of Colorado, Jon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Colorado State University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Colorado School of Law. Jon holds Series 7, 53 and 63 FINRA licenses.


John Puig

Managing Director


Mr. Puig is a Managing Director in the New York City and Albany Municipal Finance offices of RBC Capital Markets. He serves as the Co-Head of the New York Group and is a member of RBC’s large issuer practice team and the firm’s Municipal Markets Transaction Review Approval Committee.

Mr. Puig joined RBC Capital Markets in 2006, after twenty-two years at First Albany Capital. During his 30 year career in municipal finance, Mr. Puig has served as lead relationship banker for many of the largest and most sophisticated municipal issuers in the tax-exempt market, including the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the New York State Thruway Authority, the Empire State Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Connecticut.

He has also been integrally involved since inception with the development and capital plan implementation for one of the largest public private partnerships in the US, the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s (“CNSE”) research facilities in Albany and Marcy. Through 2013, New York State and over 100 private companies including IBM, Intel, Tokyo Electron, Taiwan Semiconductor, Samsung and Global Foundries have invested over $5 billion in facilities and programs at CNSE.

Mr. Puig is a registered securities representative holding Series 7, 24, 53 and 63 licenses. A graduate of Siena College and the Albany Law School of Union University, Mr. Puig has served as President of the Albany Boys and Girls Club , Treasurer of WMHT Public Television and Radio and Treasurer of the Albany Ronald McDonald House. He also serves or has served as a board member of the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, the Albany Institute of History and Art, The Center for Disability Services, Living Resources Foundation, the New York State Thoroughbred Capital Investment Fund and the Albany County Investment Advisory Board.