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


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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Terence P. Jeffrey started as editor in chief of CNSNews.com in September 2007. Prior to that, he served for more than a decade as editor of Human Events, where he is now an editor at large. Terry was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area, the seventh of eleven children. Both his parents were doctors of medicine. Terry writes a weekly column for the Creators Syndicate. He and his wife, Julie, have five children and live in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C.

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