Harvard Got $5.6M in Federal Student Loans and Grants--Despite Its $31.7B Tax-Exempt Endowment

by TERRANCE JEFFREY May 1, 2012

In fiscal year 2011, Harvard University's tax-exempt endowment jumped in value by about $4.17 billion, rising from $27,557,404,000 to $31,728,080,000--but that did not stop Harvard from collecting tuition and fees derived from federal grants and student loans that U.S. taxpayers provided to Harvard undergraduates.

Other universities with major endowments--including Yale and Princeton (from which the author of this article graduated)--also saw massive increases in their endowments and they also benefited from their students paying tuition and fees with federal grants and loans.

In the 2009-2010 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Harvard undergraduates received $4,093,140 in federal Pell Grants and $1,467,017 in federal student loans.

This total of $5,560,157 in grants and loans that federal taxpayers provided to Harvard undergraduates in the 2009-2010 school year equaled only about 0.13 percent of the $4.17 billion that Harvard's endowment increased last year.

Had Harvard settled for an increase in its endowment of only $4,165,115,843--instead of $4,170,676,000--it could have covered the entire cost of all the federal loans and grants that the taxpayers provided to its students in the 2009-2010 school year.

In that case, Harvard's endowment would have increased from $27,557,404,000 to only $31,722,519,843-instead of the full $31,728,080,000 it achieved.

The full cost for tuition, fees and other expenses for an undergraduate at Harvard was $53,950 in the 2010-2011 school year, according to the Department of Education.

According to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, Harvard has the largest tax-exempt endowment of any university in the country. However, as noted, other schools with large tax-exempt endowments also benefited from student loans and Pell Grants that federal taxpayers provided to their students. (See below for a list of the schools with the 10 largest tax-exempt endowments in the country and the federal student loans and grants the students at these schools received.)

For example, Yale's endowment increased by $2.72 billion in fiscal 2011-rising from $19,374,000,000 to $16,652,000,000. But in the 2009-2010 school year, Yale students received $2,339,738 in federal student loans and $2,894,874 in Pell Grants.

The full cost of Yale was $55,300 in the 2010-2011 school year, according to the Department of Education.

 

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