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Harvard is no longer alone....

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Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Location: seoul

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 5:25 am    Post subject: Harvard is no longer alone.... Reply with quote

Once a club for the elite of the elite, 47 U.S. schools now have $1 billion endowments
EDUCATION: List includes Chicago's Northwestern University

AP Education Writer

This story ran on on Monday, May 23, 2005 12:11 AM CDT


NEWTON, Mass. | Crossing the main quad at Boston College, visitors can't miss the billion-dollar view.

There is Higgins Hall, the recently renovated science center, with its pricey, Gothic exterior. Behind it sits a new, $41 million office building, complete with coffee bar. Down the road, through well-tended grounds, lies St. Ignatius Gate Residence Hall, home to 322 students in suites featuring instant cable and high-speed Internet access.

"I don't think you can ever over-invest in higher education," says the Rev. William Leahy, the college's president. With an endowment that hit $1.15 billion last year, the college can invest a lot: The school is in the stratosphere of wealth in American higher education.

But the stratosphere is getting crowded.

Forty-seven U.S. colleges and universities now have endowments of $1 billion or more, compared to 17 a decade ago, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Harvard alone has $22 billion, nearly $10 billion more than No. 2 Yale.

The billionaire schools have amassed their wealth through savvy fund-raising, shrewd investing and generous tax laws, and they are the envy of the world. Outside the United States, only England's venerable Oxford and Cambridge are in the same financial class.

In this country, $1 billion has become a benchmark, a point beyond which schools can stop worrying about the day-to-day and dream big.

"It allows a place to take its other sources of support -- student revenues or state financial support -- and use them as a base," said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education. "And use the rest as a source of excellence."

To shed light on how these schools are using their unprecedented wealth and why they still cost so much to attend, The Associated Press analyzed thousands of numbers collected by the federal government and college guidebooks over the past decade.

The AP found an increasingly varied mix of private and public schools in academe's financial elite, a group spending heavily on new construction and aggressively recruiting top faculty.

They also are a clique that can induce tuition sticker-shock as never before: Despite tripling its wealth over the last decade, the average billionaire college has nearly doubled its price. Tuition and fees at the average private billionaire college hit $29,002 in 2004; at public universities in the group it cost $7,230 to attend the typical flagship campus.

A significant boost in financial aid means many students aren't paying full price, yet the costs have provoked criticism that the richest colleges should use more money from their savings than they do now -- at most schools, about 5 percent a year.

Some also worry the wealthiest colleges take too big a piece of the financial pie.

The 47 billionaire schools possess nearly two-thirds of the endowed wealth in American higher education. They are indisputably engines of life-improving research but, excluding the branch campuses of billionaire public schools, they educate fewer than one in 25 American undergraduates.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of small colleges," said Ian Newbould, president of North Carolina Wesleyan College, a school with an $8.5 million endowment that ranks No. 702 of the 741 schools in the college business officers' latest endowment survey.

"There is the democratization of education, but in fact, there are a large number of students who need support and need resources."

The billionaire schools, meanwhile, seem flush. But though they are grouped together at the financial peak among America's 2,300 four-year colleges, they aren't all alike.

Each of the eight Ivy League colleges is a billionaire, perhaps unsurprisingly, as are other private schools that wouldn't be hard to guess -- Stanford, Duke, Chicago and Notre Dame among them. Yet there also are small liberal arts colleges, such as Grinnell in Iowa, and 14 public universities, up from four a decade ago. The newcomers among public schools include Ohio State, North Carolina and Illinois.

A billion dollars goes a lot further at a small school than a large one. Wellesley College, an all-women's school outside Boston, for instance, ranks 39th on the endowment list with $1.18 billion. Purdue University is one slot higher with $1.21 billion, but the Indiana school has 17 times more students.

What all these schools have in common is that -- by American standards, anyway -- they're old. Their average age is 168, ranging from 93 (Rice) to 369 (Harvard). Colleges need decades, even centuries, to build a reputation, reap the rewards of compounding investment returns and produce generations of alumni who can be tapped for donations.

Ask any president of a billionaire college about the endowment and you'll get a lecture on how little $1 billion really is: Spend too much each year and there isn't enough left for the future. And many endowment funds are for specific purposes, from scholarships to professorships to landscaping.

That's why the presidents say their endowments can do little more than put the brake on tuition increases.

The AP's analysis found tuition and fees rose 63 percent at the average private billionaire school over the last decade, slightly less than the increase faced by students at private four-year colleges nationally. The University of Richmond alone plans to raise tuition and fees by $8,330, or 31 percent, to $34,850 next year.

At the 14 public schools on the list -- many still dealing with state budget cuts and more dependent on tuition than a decade ago -- tuition and fees at flagship campuses are up 106 percent, compared with an increase of 90 percent for students at four-year public colleges nationwide. That translates to an increase of $3,712 at the average public billionaire school.

It's no surprise, then, that the debt loads of students who borrow to attend the billionaire colleges are more than $16,000 at both the flagship public universities and private schools.

Still, for many, billionaire colleges have become more affordable.

That's partly because the percentage of students receiving loans is down and the percentage receiving grants is up.

The private schools have increased grant aid and tuition discounts by two and a half times in the last decade. That's money students don't have to give back.

Private billionaire schools are meeting almost all of what's called "demonstrated need" -- that is, getting students the cash they must have to stay enrolled. Public flagship schools are meeting 84 percent of demonstrated need.

Princeton recently replaced loans entirely with grants, and Yale and Harvard eliminated tuition for students from low-income families. Among public schools, the universities of Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan have recently implemented or announced more financial aid for low-income students.

"Right now, the wealthiest schools are remarkably accessible to low-income students," said Gordon Winston, a higher education economist at Williams College ($1.23 billion), which recently reduced or eliminated loan burdens for students from families earning less than about $60,000.

At the wealthiest schools, even middle-class families might qualify for at least some need-based aid, though tuition still doesn't come cheap.

"It's a sacrifice in terms of the extra things," said Neale Mahoney, a graduating senior who has attended Brown University ($1.65 billion) on a partial scholarship, and whose parents are both educators. "My parents have never bought a new car."

In 2002, Boston College joined the small group of colleges that promise to find funding for all accepted applicants. It spends about between $55 million and $60 million annually on undergraduate, need-based financial aid.

Boston College is now "much more attractive to a range of students who might at first be put off" by the school's list price of $41,950, including room and board, said Leahy, a Jesuit priest who does his bit to keep costs down by declining a salary.

For a school founded to serve impoverished Irish immigrants, the financial aid policy is a source of pride.

But no matter how wealthy Boston College gets, Leahy doubts it ever will stop raising tuition.

"A billion dollars is a great amount of money, but it by no means eliminates all the pressure," he said, noting the costs of heating oil, health insurance and technology.
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Ya-ta Boy

Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That translates to an increase of $3,712 at the average public billionaire school.

Those tuition numbers and rates of increase are amazing.
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Nowhere Man

Joined: 08 Feb 2004

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 7:52 am    Post subject: ... Reply with quote

One thing fer sure: tuition hikes are not in line with the cost of living.

A second thing: they don't have to the billion league before universities register as corporations. Most, if not all, are.

Note how easy and popular it is to blur the line between state and private.

Purdue and Rutgers come to mind.
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Tiger Beer

Joined: 07 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Universities are such rip-offs. They are essential to exist in today's world.. yet the mass majority of graduates have mundane unrelated jobs that they could have easily got without their education. But due to the fact so many people have so much education, you wouldn't have even been able to get that dull mundane unrelated job without that education.

After living in NYC for awhile, I also noticed that a degree from anything less than one of those top schools in the country, will not get you anywhere or anything. They are almost essential.

But you really gotta know and be extremely committed to doing whatever you are trying to study in those schools.. or else you just wasted tens of thousands and thousands of dollars as well.
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