Monday, February 4, 2008
College and university endowments are back in the news. The New York Times describes the effect endowments have on the growing gap in financial well-being between a few elite schools with huge endowments and the rest of higher education. A few universities have enormous endowments that continue to grow: Harvard has $34.9 billion, Yale has $22.5 billion, and Princeton has $15.8 billion. These schools can provide significant amounts of financial aid, pay high salaries to professors, build new buildings and research facilities, and provide a variety of benefits to students and professors that other universities can't match.
Faced with the growth of endowments for private schools, and faced with decreases in state assistance, public universities are engaging in increasing amounts of fundraising. At least one state is trying to help. Elliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, recently proposed setting aside $4 billion of state money as an endowment for state colleges.
On January 30 we blogged about Sen. Grassley's continuing concerns about college and university endowments. Continuing press coverage of endowments will keep pressure on colleges to spend more from their endowments and may put pressure on Congress to put some limits on these endowments.