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. Our team includes specialists in privatized student housing, asset monetization, mergers and acquisitions, 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, asset monetization, and mergers and acquisitions

Areas of Expertise

We are a leading underwriter to the sector. Our core capabilities include traditional general receipts revenue bonds, certificates of participation, auxiliary revenue bonds and project based 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

 P3 and Asset Monetization

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

  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 and asset monetization specialists
  • Full-service commodity sales and trading platform

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.

In the last 10 years, we have completed more than 60 transactions totaling $4 billion making RBC Capital Markets the number one ranked investment bank in number of transactions and par amount in the country.

Recent Transactions

Our Team

National Coverage

Michael Baird

Co-Head of Higher Education
P3 Higher Education


Mr. Baird is a Managing Director and the Co-Head of the Higher Education Finance Group in the Municipal Markets Division of RBC Capital Markets. He joined the firm in 2003, when he opened our Baltimore investment banking office and started our P3 Higher Education practice. Mr. Baird specializes in structuring innovative solutions to meet the specific needs of our higher education 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 and various privatization models. Some of his clients have included the Texas A&M University System, the University of North Carolina System, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the University System of Maryland, Louisiana State University, the University of Oklahoma, Texas Woman’s University, Illinois State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Colorado, Southern Oregon University, Portland State University, Arizona State University, Eastern New Mexico University, Howard University, University of Akron, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Montclair State University, Rowan University, College of Staten Island, Florida Atlantic University, University of Louisville, Virginia State University, Maryland Economic Development Corporation, Collegiate Housing Foundation and Provident Resources Group.

Mr. Baird has over 30 years of investment banking experience, including 26 years as a Public Finance Banker. He has participated in hundreds of taxable and tax-exempt financings, totaling over $15 billion in aggregate principal amount. 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. He has an MBA and a BBA in Finance from Loyola University Maryland. He is a Municipal Bond Principal and has his Series 7, 50, 53 and 63 registrations.


Jon Moellenberg

Managing Director, Colorado


Jon serves as Manager of RBC’s Denver Public Finance office, the leading underwriter of tax-exempt and taxable municipal securities in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region. He is charged with further expanding the firm’s presence in Colorado and throughout the Western Region. Jon has more than 20 years of experience serving state and local government, providing clients with financial products and access to the tax-exempt and taxable capital markets in 17 different states. He frequently serves the region’s largest governmental entities including the states of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Oklahoma; the cities of Aurora, Denver, Fort Collins, Kansas City Kansas and Salt Lake City; the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, University of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Regis University; and the Department of Transportation in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Oklahoma, Denver Regional Transportation District and Tulsa International Airport Authority. In addition to the transactions listed above, Jon brings innovative financial solutions to a development and redevelopment projects including Denver Urban Renewal Authority and RainDance Metropolitan Districts; and numerous other special districts, public private partnerships, 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, 24, 50, 53, 63 and 79 FINRA licenses.


Christopher Good



Christopher is a Director 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.


Sara Russell

Managing Director
P3 Higher Education


Sara Russell is a Managing 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 $8 billion in student housing and other education projects nationwide as well as $5 billion for other not-for-profit and municipal finance clients. Some of her higher education and student housing clients have included Illinois State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois University, Louisiana State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of North Carolina System, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Delaware State University, Southern Oregon University, Texas A&M University System, Texas Woman’s University, University of Oklahoma, University System of Maryland, Cleveland State University, Montclair State University, Rowan University, Florida Atlantic University, Grambling State University, Howard University, University of Tampa, University of Toledo, University of Wyoming, Maryland Economic Development Corporation, Collegiate Housing Foundation and Provident Resources Group.

Ms. Russell has nineteen years of experience as a public finance banker.  Prior to joining RBC Capital Markets in 2005, 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, 63 and 50 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.


Paul Clancy



Greg Dawley

Managing Director


Greg Dawley is a Managing Director in the Los Angeles office & California Regional Municipal Manager for RBC Capital Markets.

Mr. Dawley has served over 23 years in the municipal finance and governmental industries. He focuses on a wide range of issuers throughout the Western Region, including those in the general government, utilities, public power, transportation, higher education and K-14 sectors.

Before his career in public finance, Mr. Dawley served as Assistant Chief of Staff to Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Previous firms include Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Banc One Capital Markets and J.P. Morgan Securities.

He is active in his community, serving on the Advisory Board of the Taubman Center at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government.

Mr. Dawley graduated with an M.P.P. from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan.



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.


Laura Janke

Director, Northwest


Ms. Janke joined RBC Capital Markets in 2005 and serves as a banker for a broad range of municipal issuers and credits in the Midwest and nationally, including states, counties, cities, higher education institutions, airports, and housing authorities. Her recent experience includes financings for the State of Minnesota, State of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, Minnesota Higher Education Facilities Authority, Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission, State of Alaska, and Alaska Municipal Bond Bank.

Ms. Janke graduated from Carleton College with a degree in Economics and holds Series 7 and 63 licenses. She is a founding member and Vice President for Membership of the Minnesota Chapter of Women in Public Finance. In addition, she was the 2016 President of the Minnesota Institute of Public Finance and a 2015-16 Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Prior to joining RBC, Ms. Janke was a member of the financing and development team for a public power facility in Minnesota.


Jim Kelly

Director, Midwest


Jim Kelly brings over 22 years of experience working with municipal issuers across the country on a wide variety of credits, including the past 5 years at RBC. Mr. Kelly has extensive experience serving municipal issuers to develop financing strategies, new credit structures, and rating agency approaches for both new and existing credits. Among the many clients James has led transactions for, his experience includes higher education revenue bonds, user fee revenue bonds, special tax bonds, economic development bonds, and pension issues. Jim has worked with the University of Chicago, Kansas State University, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, among other higher education institutions.

Mr. Kelly’s experience has included all aspects of new money and refunding transactions in both long and short-term modes. As an expert in pension financing, James has worked on many financings involving taxable debt and has an acute sense of that market. Mr. Kelly is a registered securities representative, currently holding Series 3, 7, Series 53, and Series 63 licenses. He holds a BS in Finance and Accounting form Miami University in Ohio and an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management.


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.


Case Studies


New Hope Central Education Facilities
Capital improvement, Student Housing & Dining Revenue Bonds

  • CHF–Collegiate Housing Denton, L.L.C. (“CHF”) was established by Collegiate Housing Foundation to fund a 515-unit/875-bed student housing project with related community and support facilities and a 26,000 square foot dining facility (collectively, the “Projects”) on the Denton campus of Texas Woman’s University (the “University”)
    • The Projects were financed under a privatized project finance structure with two separate bond issues that were cross-collateralized. The housing bonds closed in March 2018, while the dining bonds closed in August 2018.
  • Under the privatized project finance structure, the University has ground leased the land on which the Projects are located to CHF for 50 years. CHF, at the direction of the University, entered into contracts relating to design, development, and construction of the facilities, which it will own for the life of the financing. At the end of the term of the ground lease, the improvements will revert to the University.
  • The ground lease contains provisions outlining the University’s support for the Projects, including treating it as part of its on-campus student housing program on an equal basis with its existing facilities. The University will also serve as the property manager, will take two of its existing housing facilities offline, and will leaseback the dining facilities on an annually renewable basis.
  • RBCCM took an aggressive approach to marketing the bonds, including an extensive pre-marketing campaign with a web-based investor presentation and site visits capitalizing on the strong project metrics and the unique credit structure. As a result, we realized strong demand for the bonds and a successful sale of both bond issues.
    • Orders totaled approximately $580 million for the first phase of the transaction, an oversubscription of over 8.0 times. Consequently, RBCCM adjusted yields from 1 to 12 basis points throughout the entire maturity structure.
    • Following up the success of the first phase, the second phase received $128 million in orders, which was a 6.6x oversubscription. As a result, RBCCM adjusted yields from 1 to 8 basis points throughout the entire maturity structure.


Illinois Finance Authority
Student Housing & Academic Facility Revenue Bonds

  • In December of 2017, RBCCM served as senior managing underwriter on approximately $95 million of tax-exempt and taxable, fixed rate bonds, the proceeds of which were loaned to CHF – Chicago, L.L.C. (“CHF”) to finance 550 beds of student housing, 51,000 square feet of academic space and 1,700 square feet of retail space (the “Project”) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago (the “University”). The Project will include contained in one integrated building.
  • RBCCM utilized a privatized student housing model, where the University will lease the land on which the Project will be located to CHF for 40 years. CHF, at the direction of the University, entered into contracts relating to design, development, and construction of the facilities, which it will own for the life of the financing. At the end of the term of the ground lease, the improvements will revert to the University.
  • The ground lease contains provisions outlining the University’s support for the Project, including treating it as part of its on-campus student housing program on an equal basis with its existing facilities.
    • While the on-going operations and maintenance will be managed by American Campus Communities, the University will provide residence life and programming services, as well as marketing, leasing and rent collection.
    • The University is leasing the academic space, making annual lease payments from certain mandatory student fees.
    • The University also chose to make an equity contribution of approximately $8.6 million at closing to fund the entirety of the retail space and a portion of the academic space.
  • RBCCM engaged in an extensive marketing campaign for the bonds for several weeks prior to pricing, including a web-based investor presentation and one-on-one investor calls, capitalizing on the prime location of the Project and the unique credit structure. Despite extreme turbulence in the market due to proposed tax-reform and ban on advance refundings, RBCCM realized strong demand from investors.
    • Orders totaled approximately $1.49 billion for the transaction from 35 different accounts, an oversubscription of over 14.9 times. Consequently, RBCCM recommended yield adjustments ranging from 1 to 18 basis points throughout the structure.
University Center ChicagoUniversity Center Chicago logo


University Center, Chicago Asset Monetization

  • On July 20, 2017, RBCCM completed a unique investment banking / strategic advisory assignment for the Educational Advancement Fund (the “EAF”) – a non-profit organization jointly created by DePaul University, Roosevelt University and Columbia College Chicago for the purpose of financing, constructing, operating and maintaining the University Center Chicago (the “UCC”)
    • UCC is a ~1,700 bed student housing, conference and retail facility in Chicago’s inner loop, established for the purpose of housing students from the three academic institutions and advancing their educational mission
    • The UCC was financed with $151 million in tax-exempt bonds in 2002 (ratings of Baa2 Moody’s / BBB Fitch), which were subsequently restructured in 2006, and were outstanding in the amount of $126.725 million and currently callable
  • RBCCM conducted extensive valuation analysis of the asset and recommended pursuing the sale process through which the UCC will be monetized through sale to a qualified investment party
    • RBCCM is serving as advisor to the Educational Advancement Fund, in partnership with the broker CB Richard Ellis
  • In the concession, member institutions of the EAF have entered into master lease agreements for a defined number of beds, with a predetermined rate of rent increase, in exchange for the purchase price of the UCC
  • Purchase price will be netted against the outstanding debt, resulting in distributions to the member institutions to enhance their educational mission
    • In the dissolution of the debt, certain reserve funds in excess of $20 million will also be released back to the member institutions
    • Distributions to member institutions will be utilized to reduce deferred maintenance on other campus facilities, as well as for academic programming, research and student scholarships
  • RBCCM’s engagement included an analysis of the underlying bond documents, covenants and market conditions to determine the viability of a sale and debt defeasance, detailed work with the three member institutions to determine their objectives in a sale and participation in an ongoing master lease, preparation of offering documents and negotiations with potential counterparties
  • The transaction closed July 20, 2017, with a sale price of $201 million paid to the Educational Advancement Fund
University of Minnesota logo


Regents of the University of Minnesota
General Obligation and General Obligation Refunding Bonds
General Obligation Taxable Refunding Bonds

  • Proceeds of the Series 2017A bonds are being used to finance various capital improvements including construction of a new Athletes Village which will serve as the hub and flagship for the University’s Twin Cities Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Proceeds of the Series 2017B&C bonds are being used to advance refund approximately $316 million of outstanding University debt for PV savings of $28.6 million.
  • As part of the multifaceted marketing approach, RBCCM and RBC Wealth Management co-hosted a reception for retail and institutional investors to draw attention to the issuance of the bonds.
  • RBCCM aggressively marketed 25 years of tax-exempt serial bonds at relatively tight spreads and utilized the natural bifurcation between the two series to use lower coupons for certain callable refunding bond maturities.
  • The tax-exempt bonds attracted $603 million of priority orders including participation from 43 institutional investors. RBCCM tightened some maturities by a basis point on a day when MMD was ultimately cut 1-2 bps across most of the curve in a third consecutive day of rate cuts.
  • Some of the shortest tax-exempt maturities struggled to achieve sufficient interest due to the low absolute interest rate levels, and RBCCM made a commitment to underwrite $38.3 million (in addition to a commitment of $37.4 million on a sealed bid) with no adjustments to yields.
  • The taxable bonds achieved very strong orders of $57.0 million or 4.3x subscription, so RBCCM tightened spreads by 8 to 13 bps between the indications of interest in the morning and final pricing. 14 institutions ultimately participated at the time of pricing launch.
  • 56 institutional investors participated in the combined issue