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Prospective college students may want to consider a school’s endowment size — the value of its investments based on donated money and financial assets — since wealthier institutions are often able to offer generous student financial aid packages.
All of the colleges with the largest endowments are National Universities, schools that emphasize research and offer not only bachelor’s degrees but also master’s and doctoral degrees. Among the 10 National Universities with the largest endowments at the end of fiscal year 2017, the average endowment was more than $18 billion — this represents an increase of around $1.4 billion compared with the prior year.
The 10 colleges with the largest endowments in fiscal year 2017 are the same as the prior two years, according to data reported by more than 1,100 ranked institutions in an annual U.S. News survey. Harvard University in Massachusetts topped the list with more than $37 billion in its endowment — which grew by 4 percent compared with the prior year.
Most colleges and universities saw endowment growth for the 2017 fiscal year. According to the NACUBO–Commonfund Study of Endowments, participating institutions’ endowments experienced a higher return on investment in 2017 than in previous years — 12.2 percent on average. The highest returns on average were among institutions with more than $1 billion in endowment assets.
But some of these wealthier institutions are now subject to a new tax introduced under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in December 2017.
Among the 10 schools with the largest endowments, the vast majority of the eight private National Universities on the list may have to pay the new excise tax. A private college or university with at least 500 full-time tuition-paying students and an endowment of at least $500,000 per student is subject to the tax. According to a June IRS news release, “an estimated 40 or fewer institutions are affected” by the new tax code.
“The coming changes to tax and charitable giving laws under the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will make it much more difficult for colleges and universities to increase endowment dollars to support their missions,” said John D. Walda, president and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, in a press statement.
At the other end of the spectrum, 10 ranked schools reported endowments of less than $1 million. The median endowment among all ranked institutions at the end of fiscal year 2017 was around $57.5 million.
Below is a list of the 10 universities with the largest endowments at the end of fiscal year 2017. Endowments were examined by campus, not across public university systems. 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)||End of fiscal year 2017 endowment||U.S. News rank|
|Harvard University (MA)||$37,096,474,000||2|
|Yale University (CT)||$27,216,639,000||3 (tie)|
|Stanford University (CA)||$24,784,943,000||7|
|Princeton University (NJ)||$23,353,200,000||1|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$14,832,483,000||3 (tie)|
|University of Pennsylvania||$12,213,207,000||8 (tie)|
|Texas A&M University–College Station||$10,808,501,077||66 (tie)|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor||$10,777,563,000||27 (tie)|
|Columbia University (NY)||$9,996,596,000||3 (tie)|
|University of Notre Dame (IN)||$9,684,936,000||18|
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find endowment data, 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 2018 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 endowment data above are correct as of Oct. 16, 2018.
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