Home / General / Tales of the New Gilded Age, University Endowments Edition

Tales of the New Gilded Age, University Endowments Edition


Yale just announced that its endowment grew by more than 40% during fiscal 2021, from $31.2 to $43.2 billion. (This is net of fees, which were probably several hundred million dollars).

This means the endowment is now, conservatively speaking, throwing off annually about $175,000 per year in expendable income for every student (undergraduate, graduate, professional) enrolled at the university.

Yale’s endowment was about one billion dollars in 1985, which is equivalent to about $2.5 billion in inflation adjusted terms. So in real terms the endowment has grown more than twelve-fold over the course of the last 35 years.

The idea that “charitable” institutions would have endowments of tens of billions of dollars would have been inconceivable not that long ago. Increasingly, the wealthiest universities in the USA are essentially investment vehicles, with the attached colleges providing that sweet 501(c)(3) tax exemption.

Last year I noted how absurd it was that schools like Yale, Harvard, and Princeton were making all kinds of noises about necessary belt tightening, because of COVID. Today those administrative excuses for yet more hoarding of these incredible piles of wealth look even more ridiculous.

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