Financing a charter school facility is challenging enough. Refinancing a charter school facility is often a larger project and has more consequences because long term debt can last for 30 years or more. The stakes can be significant when locking into long term financing.
Public charter schools do not have access to the same affordable financing options as government supported district schools. Single-site charter schools, those in high-poverty or rural areas, and those with new models are at a significant disadvantage in the facilities financing market—they have to pay much higher interest rates to borrow money. States can provide financing solutions at little to no cost. Even in a best-case financing scenario, charter schools end up saddled with debt or lease obligations—which they must pay for with their per-pupil operating funds.
Since the early 1970s, moral obligation bonds have been used to finance housing, higher education facilities, hospitals, corrections facilities, and more. Some states are now using this tool to help charter schools save on borrowing costs.
State credit enhancement programs can provide effective, low-cost financing support for charter schools seeking to reduce costs for facilities financing.
Historically, the government provided all the funding for public schools. There might have been some small charitable gifts, but this was largely the government's responsibility. Even for capital construction of school buildings, the municipal bond market works very efficiently.
Just like traditional public school communities, charter schools, their employees, and their families need access to a myriad of financial services—including student loans and college-planning education.