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Recent Defaults Show Private Colleges Are Struggling

  • 800-student private school in Georgia has $25 million of debt
  • Moody's predicts small college closures will triple by 2017
The final commencement ceremony at Sweet Briar College, a women's liberal arts college in southwest Virgina. The school is closing this summer due to funding shortfall.
Photographer: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
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The finances of small U.S. colleges have big problems.

The latest example: Emmanuel College, an 800-student Christian school in Franklin Springs, Georgia, that failed this month to pay investors holding $25 million of bonds. It joins Dowling College, which this year became the first municipal-bond-market borrower rated by Moody’s Investors Service to default since 2013.