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30 Wealthiest Universities

AlexandreAlexandre Super Moderator Posts: 23,921 Super Moderator
According to total value of endowment at the end of 2004:

#1 Harvard University, $22,600,000,000
#2 Yale University, $12,700,000,000
#3 Princeton University, $9,920,000,000
#3 Stanford University, $9,920,000,000
#5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $5,870,000,000

Is it any surprise that those 5 universities above are far and away the wealthiest universities in the land?

#6 Columbia University, $4,490,000,000
#7 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, $4,240,000,000
#8 Emory University, $4,090,000,000
#9 Washington University, $4,080,000,000
#10 University of Pennsylvania, $4,020,000,000
#11 Northwestern University, $3,880,000,000
#12 University of Chicago, $3,620,000,000
#13 Cornell University, $3,310,000,000
#14 Rice University, $3,300,000,000
#15 Texas A&M University, $3,240,000,000
#16 University of Notre Dame, $3,120,000,000
#17 Duke University, $2,830,000,000
#18 Dartmouth College, $2,450,000,000
#19 University of Southern California, $2,400,000,000
#20 Vanderbilt University, $2,260,000,000
#21 University of Texas-Austin, $2,040,000,000
#21 University of California-Berkeley, $2,040,000,000
#23 University of Virginia, $1,980,000,000
#24 Johns Hopkins University, $1,910,000,000
#25 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, $1,770,000,000
#26 Brown University, $1,670,000,000
#27 University of California-Los Angeles, $1,530,000,000
#28 New York University, $1,470,000,000
#28 Case Western Reserve University, $1,470,000,000
#30 Williams College, $1,390,000,000
Post edited by Alexandre on

Replies to: 30 Wealthiest Universities

  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    These figures might be more meaningful if you tale the endowment and divide by the number of students. A school with 1200 kids and a bullion dollar endowment will be more impressive to me than a school with 15,000 kids and a 2 billion dollar endowment.
  • im_blueim_blue Registered User Posts: 2,142 Senior Member
    Per capita endowment rankings are also misleading for other reasons, though. Undergraduate alumni are more likely to donate to their alma mater than graduate and professional alumni, so do you divide by the number of undergraduates or all students? Also, a small LAC like Williams may have a huge endowment per student, but it's absolute influence on the academic world is quite small compared to the heavyweights of HYPSM.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Super Moderator Posts: 23,921 Super Moderator
    Yes and no Taxguy. Only a tiny fraction of a university's endowment is used for student benefits. Most of a university's endowment is used for large projects such as research initiatives, construction of buildings etc... But I will work on an endowment per student list anyway...it should be interesting! hehe
  • johnleemkjohnleemk Registered User Posts: 715 Member
    Is there a reason why Dartmouth has a larger endowment than Williams, yet Williams is need-blind for internationals while Dartmouth isn't?
  • AlexandreAlexandre Super Moderator Posts: 23,921 Super Moderator
    For one thing, Dartmouth has over 5,500 students, including 1,000 graduate students. Dartmouth also has an MBA program and Law school to run. For all those reasons, I would say Dartmouth approaches its endowment differently.
  • johnleemkjohnleemk Registered User Posts: 715 Member
    Ah, I figured it had to be something to do with that. Williams has only a couple of thousand students.
  • driverdriver - Posts: 4,148 Senior Member
    Dartmouth doesn't have a law school--but it does have medical and engineering schools in addition to the Business school.
  • coureurcoureur Registered User Posts: 11,386 Senior Member
    Per capita analyses favor very tiny organizations and thus are usually meaningful only when comparing things of roughly similar size. Otherwise, you wind up concluding that something like Deep Springs is "wealthier" than Harvard, or Tonga is "wealthier" than the United States.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Super Moderator Posts: 23,921 Super Moderator
    Oooopsss..that's correct Driver, I miswrote!
  • collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,517 Senior Member
    I added to Alexandre's information:
    from IPEDS 2003

    1. instructional expenses per FTE (full-time student equivalent)
    2. academic support expenses per FTE
    3. percent of scholarship expenditures from institutional grants (not state and federal grants)
    4. Government appropriation per FTE for publics

    The numbers are all over the map. I am not sure how the accounting works. There may be some "economies of size" that apply. What does it mean?

    The first number is endowment is in billions from Alexandre's list.

    #1 Harvard University, $22,600 $37150 $21654 94%
    #2 Yale University, $12,700 $60907 $12985 83%
    #3 Princeton University, $9,920 $30772 $9441 84%
    #3 Stanford University, $9,920 $41327 $13500 88%
    #5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $5,870 $7954 $3936 97%
    #6 Columbia University, $4,490 $42223 $3888 91%
    #7 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, $4,240 $14759 $3569 81% $8911
    #8 Emory University, $4,090 $25707 $4923 84%
    #9 Washington University, $4,080 $63493 $8636 95%
    #10 University of Pennsylvania, $4,020 $26664 $21920 88%
    #11 Northwestern University, $3,880 $23453 $7126 91%
    #12 University of Chicago, $3,620 $35805 $0?? 84%
    #13 Cornell University, $3,310 $18505 $6867 79%
    #14 Rice University, $3,300 $29121 $4701 94%
    #15 Texas A&M University, $3,240 $10735 $1457 26% $9875
    #16 University of Notre Dame, $3,120 $19036 $3570 91%
    #17 Duke University, $2,830 $30061 $1951 92%
    #18 Dartmouth College, $2,450 $38951 $14228 100%
    #19 University of Southern California, $2,400 $18523 $1538 100%
    #20 Vanderbilt University, $2,260 $40997 $9466 94%
    #21 University of Texas-Austin, $2,040 $8488 $1858 61%
    #21 University of California-Berkeley, $2,040 $12566 $2348 61% $15179
    #23 University of Virginia, $1,980 $9787 $3546 90% $7302
    #24 Johns Hopkins University, $1,910 $57526 $1620 86%
    #25 University of Minn-Twin Cities, $1,770 $11849 $5923 65% $13056
    #26 Brown University, $1,670 $20082 $4957 90%
    #27 University of Cal-Los Angeles, $1,530 $20537 $6752 55% $17353
    #28 New York University, $1,470 $23429 $1262 100%
    #29 Case Western Reserve University, $1,470 $23261 $2148 93%
    #30 Williams College, $1,390 $81153 $18156 94%
  • kk19131kk19131 Registered User Posts: 2,233 Senior Member
    Well, I'm still wondering where my $45,000 goes!
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member

    Page 2 of the following PDF is a chart of per student endowments:


    It has a few omissions (Emory), but the top of the chart is complete. The top 10 per student endowments are:


    Per undergrad endowment would be the most relevant figure for college selection, but it is virtually impossible to isolate any undergrad stat at most universities, even for something that would be as simple to report as the number of professors who teach undergrads.

    The numbers are, of course easy to see for the LACs. So, in answer to the question "where does my money go" or "why is endowment important", Williams and Swarthmore spend $67k and $68k per student respectively (not inc. financial aid) and have average net tuition and fees revenue (after fin. aid) in the $19k per student range. That's nearly a $40k hidden merit discount for each student who can get in.

    When you sell a $68k product for an average of $19k, people generally line up to buy it (admissions selectivity!) This same formula for success has been used by all of the old brand names in American education for decades and centuries. It is, from an economics standpoint, why the schools at the top of the endowment list have the status they do today.

    It also explains how relative newcomers, like Duke, Emory, and Wash U, can shoot up the prestige charts (shoot up meaning over decades not centuries) when they get the financial might of a large endowment (Coca-Cola stock, etc.)
  • AlexandreAlexandre Super Moderator Posts: 23,921 Super Moderator
    Not quite correct Interresteddad. You are ignoring Economies of scale. A school with 40,000 students can have a third of the endowment per student than a university with 4,000 students and still provide the same benefits and resources.

    Furthermore, the Williams table does not include state schools. Michigan ($120,000/student) and UVA ($140,000) have a per-student endoment similar to Bates, Johns Hopkins and Cornell.

    State schools are relative newcomers to this whoel endowment Business. In 1990, there wasn't a single state university among the top 20 in terms of endowment. Today, Michigan is #7 and TAMU is #15. State schools have only recently started working on their endowment and are outpacing private universities.
  • haonhaon Registered User Posts: 278 Junior Member

    that's actually not entirely true. While some costs for universities aren't greatly affected by the size of the school (maintaining facilities), a large chunk of the costs are. Faculty are some of the most expensive (and arguably the most important) assets of a College, a large university must employ a larger faculty than a small university.

    Additionally, this chart is misleading because (correct me if I'm wrong), it includes endowments for grad schools. An undergrad at U-Mich gets very little of the benefit of the law school endowment.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    For state schools, per student spending is still per student spending. The difference is that much of it comes from taxpayer subsidies rather than per student endowment spending.

    As far as economies of scale, I'm sure they exist -- especially with the huge class sizes at many large universities. It's also a lot cheaper to have TAs teach undergrad classes.

    But since no university makes it possible to isolate undergrad spending (or even something as simple as the number of faculty teaching undergrads), it's kind of moot point.
This discussion has been closed.