Skip to main content

Colleges or Investment Firms?

I've worked at a wide range of colleges and universities in my career: From a tiny little college with lots of adults and transfers and commuters, to a classic liberal arts college, to one of the country's best known and wealthiest colleges, to a place just coming out of financial exigency, to one of the largest private universities in the country.  Money, in case you didn't know, makes a difference.

At one of those places, I was docked 18 cents on my first expense report reimbursement, because I had rounded up a tip, making it more than the 15% allowed by college policy.  But it was at one of the most heavily endowed colleges in the nation, at least on a per student basis.  I remember telling this to my mother, who only remarked, "Well, I guess now you know how they got it."

So today's Chronicle of Higher Education article about the "Huge Explosion of Wealth" and the resultant $37.5 Billion in contributions to colleges and universities last year.  And, as you might suspect, the biggest recipient, at an astounding $1.6 Billion, was Harvard.

So, I thought it might be interesting to look at money in higher education to answer my question: Which colleges are raising money on the side, and which investment firms are running colleges on the side?

It's below, using Tableau Software's Story Points.  Click inside the gray boxes at the top to see a different view of the data set.  This starts by breaking these 745 private colleges into two groups: Those who get more revenue from investment return than they get from tuition (orange) and those who get more from tuition than investment return (purple).

This is for a sort of high level flyover; accounting is complicated, and something as simple as growth in endowment can be attributable to a variety of things, such as big gifts or shrewd investment strategies. Not all endowment funds can be spent on financial aid (many of them are restricted) and every university has different missions, and different student bodies (for instance, more graduate students whom you fully fund can get expensive).

But take a look and let me know if you learn anything.  And if you tweet this out, I'd appreciate you tagging me @JonBoeckenstedt .



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2018 Admissions Data

This is always a popular post, it seems, and I've had a couple of people already ask when it was going to be out.  Wait no more.

This is IPEDS 2018 admissions data, visualized for you in two different ways.  You can switch using the tabs across the top.

The first view is the universe of colleges and universities that report data; not every college is required to, and a few leave data out, and test optional colleges are not supposed to report test scores.  But IPEDS is not perfect, so if you find any problems, contact the college.

On the first view, you'll see 1,359 four-year private and public, not-for-profit institutions displayed.  In order to make this as clean as possible, I've taken out some specialty schools (nursing, business, engineering, etc.) as many of those don't have complete data.  But you can put them back in using the filter at top right.

Hover over any bar, and a little chart pops up showing undergraduate enrollment by ethnicity.

You can also choose to…

So you think you're going back to the SAT and ACT?

Now that almost every university in the nation has gone test-optional for the 2021 cycle out of necessity, a nagging question remains: How many will go back to requiring tests as soon as it's possible?  No one knows, but some of the announcements some colleges made sounded like the kid who only ate his green beans to get his screen time: They did it, but they sure were not happy about it.  So we have some suspicions about the usual suspects.I don't object to colleges requiring tests, of course, even though I think they're not very helpful, intrinsically biased against certain groups, and a tool of the vain.  You be you, though, and don't let me stop you.However, there is a wild card in all of this: The recent court ruling prohibiting the University of California system from even using--let alone requiring--the SAT or ACT in admissions decisions next fall.  If you remember, the Cal State system had already decided to go test blind, and of course community colleges in th…

Another 1000 Words and Ten Charts on First-generation, Low-income, and Minority Students

I have always enjoyed writing, and I consider this and my other blog like a hobby.  Usually, I spend no more than 45 minutes on any post, as I don't make my living by writing, and my blogs are not "monetized." But once in a while, an opportunity presents itself to write for a wider audience, and that's when I see what it takes to make a living putting words to paper. That happened this week.

You may have seen my opinion piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education. If not, you can read it first, read it last, or not at all; I think both this and that stand alone, despite their relationship.  In the end, we ended up with about 40% of my first draft, which is what happens when you write for a print publication. And of course, a print publication makes interactive charts, well, difficult.

I think there is more to say on the topic, because the similarities in recruitment challenges for first-generation, low-income, and minority students tend to look a lot alike, and the mo…