Tuition Gouging, Windfall Endowments, Part II
Under growing pressure from Congress, the country's wealthiest colleges and universities are sharply resisting calls to spend more of their soaring endowments to expand financial aid and curb tuition hikes that critics say are putting college beyond the reach of ordinary families.
The pattern of deep-pocketed universities regularly raising tuition while amassing fast-growing fortunes has drawn unusual scrutiny from government leaders and higher education advocates over the past few months. They say elite colleges are hoarding wealth that could help open their doors to more poor and working-class families.
See the chart above (click to enlarge) of the 20 largest college endowments (totaling almost $200 billion), from a database in the Chronicle of Higher Education (paid subscription required) for the endowments of almost 800 colleges and universities (combined total of $411 billion as of June 2007). Harvard's endowment alone of $34.6 billion is more than the cash holdings of General Electric, IBM, Wal-Mart and Microsoft, combined!
In Massachusetts, 13 institutions boast endowments of more than $500 million. The Boston area's eight wealthiest schools hold a combined fortune approaching $50 billion.