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 matter to you in your college or graduate school search.
Colleges with large endowments generally have more money available to spend on academic programs, school facilities, extracurricular activities, research and financial aid, and these schools can afford to recruit distinguished professors. In addition, largecollege endowments indicate a school has exceptionally wealthy alumni and generous donors.
The growth of U.S. college endowments slowed in fiscal year 2015 with an average growth rate of 2.4 percent compared with 15.5 percent in 2014, according to a national survey of 812 colleges and universities.
[Find out the 10 most and least expensive private colleges.]
Slower growth in endowments may be a problem for universities. Schools turn to their endowments for, on average, nearly 10 percent of their operating funds, said John D. Walda, president and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, in a written statement. “Lower returns may make it even tougher for colleges and universities to adequately fund financial aid, research, and other programs that are very reliant on endowment earnings and are vital to institutions’ missions.”
The 10 colleges with the largest endowments in fiscal year 2015 are the same as in 2014, and Harvard University remains the clear front-runner with an endowment of $37.6 billion. Nine of the 10 increased the size of their endowments in fiscal year 2015. The one exception is Texas A&M University—College Station, whose endowment was $9.75 billion in 2015 compared with $10.52 billion in 2014. Texas A&M came in eighth among the 1,146 ranked colleges that reported these data to U.S. News in an annual survey, compared with sixth place in the prior version of this list.
[Understand why public school may not be the cheapest option.]
All of the colleges with the biggest 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 colleges with the largest endowments at the end of fiscal year 2015, the average endowment was $16.9 billion compared with $16.2 billion in 2014.
The median U.S. college endowment at the end of fiscal year 2015 was $58.8 million.
Below is a list of the 10 universities with the largest endowments at the end of fiscal year 2015. 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 2015 endowment||U.S. News rank and category|
|Harvard University (MA)||$37,615,545,000||2, National Universities|
|Yale University (CT)||$25,542,983,000||3 (tie), National Universities|
|Princeton University (NJ)||$22,291,270,000||1, National Universities|
|Stanford University (CA)||$22,222,957,000||5 (tie), National Universities|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$13,474,743,000||7, National Universities|
|University of Pennsylvania||$10,133,569,000||8 (tie), National Universities|
|University of Michigan—Ann Arbor||$9,809,705,000||27 (tie), National Universities|
|Texas A&M University—College Station||$9,754,202,036||74 (tie), National Universities|
|Columbia University (NY)||$9,639,065,000||5 (tie), National Universities|
|University of Notre Dame (IN)||$8,784,381,000||15 (tie), National Universities|
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. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2016 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. 4, 2016.