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As colleges compete for student tuition dollars amid shrinking enrollment, alumni donations become more important to the bottom line.
Alumni donated more than $11 billion to their alma maters in 2017, according to an annual survey from the Council for Aid to Education, an increase of 14.5 percent over 2016. CAE found that of the $43.6 billion in contributions to higher education in 2017, 26.1 percent came from alumni. The survey also reported that from 1977 to 2017 alumni giving rose by nearly 1,700 percent.
Among the 1,106 ranked schools that submitted these data to U.S. News for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic years, only three colleges had alumni giving rates of 50 percent or greater, while a small number of schools came in slightly below that mark. Of the 10 schools with the highest average alumni donation rates, eight are National Liberal Arts Colleges, schools that award at least half of their degrees in liberal arts fields.
Princeton University, the only National University on the list, stands at the top with an average of 59.1 percent of alumni making a donation in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. National Universities are schools that offer a variety of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs.
Of the 10 colleges listed, the average two-year alumni giving rate is 49.8 percent. By comparison, the average rate for alumni contributions at all ranked schools is 11.1 percent, according to U.S. News data.
Eight of the 10 schools with the highest average giving rates by alumni over the last two academic years also led in this category for donations in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The two newcomers on the list are College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky.
Below are the 10 schools with the highest two-year average percentage of alumni donors in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|School (state)||Two-year average percentage of alumni who donated||U.S. News rank and category|
|Princeton University (NJ)||59.1%||1, National Universities|
|Thomas Aquinas College (CA)||58.9%||43 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Williams College (MA)||51.4%||1, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Bowdoin College (ME)||48.6%||5 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Wellesley College (MA)||48.5%||3 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Amherst College (MA)||47.2%||2, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Carleton College (MN)||46.8%||5 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|College of the Holy Cross (MA)||46.1%||35, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Claflin University (SC)||45.5%||162 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Alice Lloyd College (KY)||45.4%||16 (tie), Regional Colleges (South)|
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 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 alumni data above are correct as of Dec. 18, 2018.
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