Aug 15, 2012

Just the Facts: Colleges with the Largest Endowments

Harvard University
A college “endowment” is basically the total value of an institution’s investments—property, stocks, and cash. It mostly comes from donations from rich alums and others, but grows with wise management.

Usually colleges use the interest from their endowment to cover worthy expenses like scholarships for students. A college with a huge endowment may be less concerned about getting 100% of tuition from every student and can afford to repair buildings or buy new technology.

And the size of an endowment can be an indicator of the financial health of an institution. Nearly all endowments took serious hits after 2008 and have been working hard to recover since.

But things are looking up.  Better market conditions helped boost endowment gains for the 2011 fiscal year according to the 2011 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. Overall, college endowments returned an average of 19.2% (after fees), the study found.

The DC area is home to a number of colleges with endowments among the top 120 in the nation, including the University of Virginia (19), Johns Hopkins University (25), University of Richmond (33), George Washington (55), Washington and Lee (59), Georgetown (63), University of Maryland System (93), William & Mary (121), and Virginia Tech (130).

Top 25 endowment funds by rank order:
  1. Harvard University $31,7B
  2. Yale University $19,4B
  3. University of Texas System $17,1B
  4. Princeton University $17,1B
  5. Stanford University $16,5B
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology $9,7B
  7. University of Michigan $7,8B
  8. Columbia University $7,8B
  9. Northwestern University $7,2B
  10.  Texas A&M University System & Foundations $7B
  11.  University of Pennsylvania $6,6B
  12.  University of Chicago $6,6B
  13. University of California $6,3B
  14. University of Notre Dame $6,3B
  15. Duke University $5,7B
  16. Emory University $5,4B
  17. Washington University in St. Louis $5,3B
  18. Cornell University $5B
  19.  University of Virginia $4,8B
  20. Rice University $4,5B
  21. University of Southern California $3,5B
  22.  Vanderbilt University $3,4B
  23. Dartmouth College $3,4B
  24.  New York University $2,8B
  25. Johns Hopkins University $2,6B

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