Universities with the largest endowments

Published: Sunday, May 4 2014 10:54 p.m. MDT

That college is becoming increasingly unaffordable is well documented, but how much these unaffordable colleges receive each year in financial endowments is less well-known.

Using data from the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute, we've listed the 25 colleges in America with the highest endowments and ranked them from lowest to highest. Did your alma mater make the cut?

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Westbank, BC

So what happens to all this money?

Former Sports Director
Ogden, UT

It is invested and the earnings are used to fund the university.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

It's amazing that tuition rates are still high at these schools with huge endowments, it would seem they could defer more of those costs.

Glendora, CA

These universities are definitely corporations, in and of themselves.


As someone who used to serve as a financial delegate to the board of trustees at my university, it is common practice for universities to use their endowments to drive-down tuition. Tuition (most often) does not contribute to the endowment of a school, rather the giving, research funds, patent and licensing funds, and athletic funds do.

Most people don't understand that the cost per pupil at universities is higher than tuition. State schools use a combination of their endowment and tax-base funding, whereas private univ.'s use the interest off of the endowment to drive down cost.

Other parts of interest and giving received are partitioned to campus-wide development. This is often the case when a building, endowed professorship, or program/degree has a person's name behind it. They donate the money under the stipulation that the entity they are funding is named after them.

This is why Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford are ranked as high as they are: their endowments are a reflection of the quality and income of their graduates/professors. I'm not saying it accurately depicts quality.

Look at the endowment-to-pupil ratio. While Texas' endowment is huge, its for 130,000+ students. Harvard's $30bil is spread over just 14,000 students.


Sorry, my mistake on endowment-per-pupil ratios:

Harvard's $32 bil is for a 21,000 students
Texas' $20 bil is for 141,000 students

Bird man
Laurel, MT

what excuse do universities seem to use why tuition costs are going up so high and so fast far exceeding inflation? I do not believe they can blame it on rising faculty salaries so what is it?

Daniel L.
Murray, UT

I just looked up a couple of these colleges, really interesting that Dartmouth may subsidize the entire tuition for accepted students who make less than $100,000. Many of these colleges are very generous with their money.

clearfield, UT

I don't care what the cost per pupil is. When we are talking about billions in endowment, the 30 or 40 thousand dollars yearly tuition is like paper clip money for some of these schools. Tuition should not be so high for most students. There is a lot of talk about white privilidge in America, and I'm sure much of it comes from liberal social sciences professors. Well, start with reducing the amount of tuition and maybe you will see less white privilidge at these schools, and more non white who are otherwise acedemically qualified. Graduating from college with 6 figure debt is just a bad way to start life. I'm sure the alumni bankers love it though.

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