The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or graduate school search.
Colleges that have large endowments — the value of their investments based on donated money and financial assets — may opt to use those financial resources in ways that significantly benefit students. A wealthy school can leverage its financial security by enacting need-blind admissions policies, providing generous financial aid packages that don’t require students to take out loans, recruiting outstanding professors, funding innovative academic programs or offering unique research opportunities.
Because many universities are nonprofit organizations and typically tax-exempt, the size of their endowments is frequently a source of controversy among students, parents and politicians who are alarmed by the cost of college. But schools often don’t spend much of their endowment money each year, arguing that they need to keep their endowments growing for future years and noting restrictions on how certain funds can be used.
The fact that one university is wealthier than another doesn’t necessarily mean that it provides a better educational experience for students. However, it is true that some of the richest universities are prestigious schools that are widely regarded as academic powerhouses, and these schools often perform well in the U.S. News Best National Universities rankings.
Many National Universities — schools that often emphasize research and offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees — have endowments that exceed $1 billion. Among the 354 ranked universities that provided this data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average endowment size at the end of fiscal year 2019 was nearly $1.4 billion.
In contrast, the average among the 10 National Universities with the largest endowments at the end of fiscal year 2019 was about $20.4 billion. Harvard University in Massachusetts once again had the largest endowment by far, exceeding $40.9 billion. Nine of the 10 schools on this list placed within the top 50 of the 2021 Best National Universities rankings, with the one exception being Texas A&M University, which tied for No. 66.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are some schools that have very modest endowments. Among the 10 ranked universities with the smallest endowments, the average was approximately $6.4 million.
Below is a list of the 10 National Universities with the largest endowments at the conclusion of fiscal year 2019. 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 (state)||End of fiscal year 2019 endowment||U.S. News rank|
|Harvard University (MA)||$40,929,700,000||2|
|Yale University (CT)||$30,295,003,000||4 (tie)|
|Stanford University (CA)||$27,699,834,000||6 (tie)|
|Princeton University (NJ)||$25,623,600,000||1|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$17,443,750,000||4 (tie)|
|University of Pennsylvania||$14,649,761,000||8|
|Texas A&M University||$12,632,092,945||66 (tie)|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor||$12,273,834,000||24 (tie)|
|University of Notre Dame (IN)||$11,565,964,000||19|
|Columbia University (NY)||$10,950,738,000||3|
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find endowment figures, 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 2020 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 comes 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 is correct as of Sept. 22, 2020.
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