Princeton University Endowment Reports Growth to $22.7 Billion

By Anne Levin

Princeton University’s endowment earned a 12.7 percent investment gain for the most recent fiscal year, it was announced this week. The University has a $22.7 billion endowment, an increase of about $1.7 billion from the previous year.

Major schools began reporting their annual return figures during the past few weeks. Harvard said it had earned 5.8 percent, while Yale reported an 11.5 percent return. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s figure was 13.2 percent, and Bowdoin College reported 14.2 percent earned for the year.

Princeton’s results are scheduled to be certified on October 22 during a meeting of the directors of the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO), the University office that manages the endowment.

“The continuing strong performance of the endowment makes it possible to sustain the University’s generous financial aid, which makes it possible for any student who is admitted to attend Princeton, regardless of ability to pay and without the need for loans,” Provost David S. Lee said.

In 2001, Princeton became the first University to offer every aid recipient a package that replaces loans with grant aid that students do not pay back. Some 60 percent of students receive financial aid. The University determines a family’s ability to pay using its own need formula, with individual results.

According to the University’s website, the amount of its average need-based grant increased by more than 90 percent, “about twice as much as the amount of tuition increases for the same period.” In 2014-15 the average aid grant covered 100 percent of tuition for freshmen receiving financial aid, and 83 percent of recent seniors graduated debt free.

Families with the United States median household income of $54,000 or less typically do not pay tuition. Their grant also covers room, board, and other expenses. Most students from families with incomes up to $140,000 pay no tuition. For a family with income around $160,000 grants cover about 80 percent of tuition.

The average annual return on the endowment for the past 10 years has been 10.1 percent, placing the University among the top percentile of 471 institutions listed by the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service. The University has made efforts in recent years to increase the economic diversity of the student body. Eighteen percent of the freshman class of 2018 was given Pell grants, an increase of 7.2 percent from the class of 2008.