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There are many ways college graduates support their alma mater, such as rooting for the school’s football team, attending local alumni gatherings or, for some, opening up their checkbooks.
In 2017, alumni collectively donated $11.37 billion to their colleges and universities, according to an annual report from the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education. That is an increase of 14.5 percent from the prior year, which the report attributes, at least in part, to a strong stock market.
Some colleges and universities have a particularly high percentage of former students who make financial contributions.
Princeton University had the highest percentage of alumni who donated among the 1,085 ranked schools that submitted data to U.S. News for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years. During those two years, an average of 60.8 percent of Princeton alumni gave back to the school.
In that period, the 10 institutions with the highest percentages of undergraduate alumni donors boasted an average giving rate of 51.5 percent. In comparison, among all the schools that reported alumni giving data to U.S. News, the average was 11.6 percent — roughly 40 percentage points lower.
Including Princeton, nine of the 10 schools with the highest alumni donation rates are the same as those that topped the list for the period covering 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. All of these nine schools saw their alumni giving rate dip slightly. Davidson College in North Carolina had the largest decrease: about 4.9 percentage points.
The new entrant to the top 10 is Claflin University, a historically black college in South Carolina. Claflin saw its average percentage of alumni who donated increase from 47.7 percent in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 to 50.4 percent in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.
Below is a list of the 10 schools — nine of which are National Liberal Arts Colleges — with the highest two-year average percentage of undergraduate alumni donors in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|School name (state)||Two-year average percentage of alumni who donated||U.S. News rank and category|
|Princeton University (NJ)||60.8%||1, National Universities|
|Thomas Aquinas College (CA)||56.7%||58 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Bowdoin College (ME)||54.5%||3 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Williams College (MA)||53.6%||1, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Claflin University (SC)||50.4%||173-229, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Wellesley College (MA)||49%||3 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Carleton College (MN)||48.5%||8 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Washington and Lee University (VA)||47.5%||10 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Davidson College (NC)||47.1%||10 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Amherst College (MA)||46.9%||2, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find alumni giving rates, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2017 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The alumni data above are correct as of June 19, 2018.
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