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10 Colleges With Largest Financial Endowments

Katy Hopkins

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 and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

In fiscal year 2011, Harvard University was more than $12 billion richer than any other college in the country.

The top-ranked National University's financial endowment was $32,012,729,000 in the 2011 fiscal year, the school reported to U.S. News in a 2012 survey. That figure was well above the fiscal-year average: Of the 1,189 ranked colleges that reported endowment figures to U.S. News, the average endowment was roughly $313,182,000.

[Explore the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings.]

Individual reports ranged from Harvard University on the high end to Providence Christian College's $15,000, the lowest reported endowment. Though Harvard's endowment far outpaced even the next-highest school on the list (Yale University, with $19,174,387,000), 66 ranked colleges had endowments of more than $1 billion each.

Most of the universities with the largest financial endowments are private universities. Just one public school, the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor, cracks this top 10 list. For the purposes of this list, endowments were examined by campus, not across public university systems. Unranked institutions, which do not submit enough data for U.S. News to calculate a ranking, were not considered for this report.

Some schools dip into endowment funds for financial aid awards, new campus programs, and more--and, sometimes, donors can give directly to the program they wish to fund. At Duke University, for instance, donors can give directly to funds such as scholarships and athletics programs.

[See which colleges give merit aid to the most students.]

Because schools spend some endowment income and principal on current operations that impact students, the figures reported can factor into the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings methodology, despite not being an explicit variable. "[S]chools with larger endowments tend to do better in the rankings' financial resources indicator than schools without any endowment," Director of Data Research Bob Morse wrote in a 2011 blog post. Financial resources per student accounts for 10 percent of a college's overall rank.

These 10 institutions had the most money in their endowments during fiscal year 2011.

School name (state) FY 2011 Endowment U.S. News rank & category
Harvard University (MA) $32,012,729,000 1, National Universities
Yale University (CT) $19,174,387,000 3, National Universities
Princeton University (NJ) $17,162,603,000 1, National Universities
Stanford University (CA) $16,502,606,000 6, National Universities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology $9,712,628,000 6, National Universities
Columbia University (NY) $7,789,578,000 4, National Universities
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor $7,725,307,000 29, National Universities
University of Pennsylvania $6,582,030,000 8, National Universities
University of Notre Dame (IN) $6,383,344,000 17, National Universities
Duke University (NC) $5,747,377,000 8, National Universities

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's 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's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The endowment data above are correct as of Nov. 27, 2012.

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