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

April 30, 2012 - 3:52 PM

Harvard University

Harvard University (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

(CNSNews.com) - 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.

Princeton’s endowment also increased by $2.72 billion in fiscal 2011—rising from $14,391,450,000 to $17,109,508,000.  But in the 2009-2010 school year, Princeton students received $1,481,743  in federal student loans and $2,183,620 in Pell Grants.

The full cost of Princeton was $52,715 in the 2010-2011 school year.

At $17.15 billion, the endowment of the University of Texas is the largest endowment of any state university in the United States. In fiscal 2011, Texas's endowment grew by about $3.1 billion. Yet, undergraduates at the University of Texas received $111,326,690 in federal student loans in the 2009-2010 school year and $42,244,758 in Pell Grants.

The full on-campus cost for an in-state student at the University of Texas was $24,026 in 2010-2011 school year.

Speaking at the University of Iowa last week, President Barack Obama said that imposing higher tax rates on “the wealthiest Americans” so, among other things, low interest rates can be maintained on federal student loans is not “about class warfare.”

“How can we want to maintain tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, who don't need them and weren't even asking for them? I don't need one,” Obama told the students. “I needed help back when I was your age. I don't need help now. I don't need an extra thousand dollars or $3,000; you do.”

“This isn't about class warfare,” Obama said. “We want every American to succeed. That's the point.”

According to President Obama's budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education, the federal government will provide about $22.8 billion in Pell Grants in this fiscal year, and make about $176.3 billion in direct student loans.

Below is a list of the universities with the 10 largest endowments. The list includes the name of the school, the size of the endowment at he end of fiscal 2011 (June 30, 2011), the size of the endowment at the end of fiscal 2010 (June 30, 2010), the percent increase in the endowment from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011, and the amount its students received in federal student loans and Pell Grants in school year 2009-2010. (The source for the endowment numbers is the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The source for the student loan and Pell Grant numbers is the U.S. Department of Education.)

1.  Harvard $31,728,080,000 (2011)     $27,557,404,000 (2010)  +15.1

Loans: $1,467,017 Pell Grants: $4,093,140

2.  Yale $19,374,000,000 (2011)           $16,652,000,000 (2010)  +16.3

Loans: $2,339,738  Pell Grants: $2,894,874

3.  U. Texas $17,148,649,000 (2011)    $14,052,220,000 (2010) +22.0

Loans: $111,326,690  Pell Grants: $42,244,758

4. Princeton $17,109,508,000 (2011)     $14,391,450,000 (2010) +18.9

Loans: $1,481,743  Pell Grants: $2,183,620

5.  Stanford $16,502,606,000 (2011)       $13,851,115,000 (2010) +19.1

Loans: $5,627,274  Pell Grants: $4,723,257

6.  MIT $9,712,628,000 (2011)                  $8,317,321,000 (2010) +16.8

Loans: $6,138,195 Pell Grants: $3,358,684

7.  U. Michigan $7,834,752,000 (2011)      $6,564,100,000 (2010) +19.4

Loans: $70,922,064  Pell Grants: $16,812,095

8.  Columbia $7,789,578,000 (2011)          $6,516,512,000 (2010) +19.5

Loans: $16,595,305  Pell Grants: $6,244,017

9.  Northwestern $7,182,745,000 (2011)    $5,945,277,000 (2010)+20.8

Loans: $19,156,473  Pell Grants: $4,012,472

10. Texas A&M $6,999,517,000 (2011)        $5,738,289,000 (2010)+22.0

Loans: $91,020,463  Pell Grants: $31,003,978