Princeton University’s endowment rose to $26.1 billion over the last fiscal year

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Princeton University’s endowment earned a 6.2 percent investment gain for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the school announced Friday. The endowment value stood at $26.1 billion, an increase of about $200 million over the previous year.

The average annual return on Princeton University’s endowment for the past decade is 11.6 percent, which places Princeton among the top percentile of 500 institutions listed by the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.

The Princeton University Investment Co. (PRINCO), the office that manages the endowment, will certify the results during a meeting of its directors on Oct. 17.

“Princeton is unusual, even among similar universities, with an endowment that covers more than half of our operating costs each year. That endowment is the result of generations of generosity from alumni and friends as well as effective stewardship and investment by the trustees and PRINCO,” Princeton University Provost Deborah Prentice said in a written statement. “Its payout continues to provide essential funding for core operations, a flexible margin to invest in strategic opportunities, the capacity to recruit and retain faculty and staff talent, and the substantial resources necessary to ensure affordable access to academic offerings of the highest quality regardless of a student’s ability to pay. It allows us to assemble an intellectual community in a teaching and research environment that would be unthinkable without the flexibility of resources it allows.”    

The endowment is made up of more than 4,000 funds that have been established since Princeton University’s founding in 1746.

The endowment supports the scholarship, teaching and research. The University has more than 200 endowed professorships honoring the most distinguished professors. The endowment also supports classrooms, laboratories, libraries and academic programs as well as campus life priorities including athletics and religious life. In addition to supporting daily operations, officials said the endowment is set up to sustain the university for many decades to come, through periods of economic growth as well as through downturns and recessions.

Earlier this year, Princeton trustees approved a 7.2 percent increase in undergraduate financial aid to $187.4 million in the University’s operating budget for the current year. Endowment funds cover more than 80 percent of the undergraduate aid budget. The endowment also supports graduate students and their research. All doctoral students are fully funded for the entirety of their regular program length, and the majority of master’s programs are funded, either partially or fully.

Princeton University makes a voluntary payment in lieu of taxes to the town of Princeton each year. For 2018, the amount was $3.22 million.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

4 Comments

  1. @JPC They use the interest on the endowment to pay for some of the operating costs. Quick web search indicates annual budget of about $2.3 billion, which is still quite a number, of course. For comparison purposes, the much larger Rutgers University (all campuses) has a budget of about $4.4 billion.

  2. Many retired Princeton faculty and staff are struggling now, while the university rakes in billions built on their long years of service for low pay. How does the administration explain holding endless forums on economic justice while cheerfully oppressing the old people (many of them people of color) who built the place? A one-time grant for all retirees would do a lot of good, and show students the difference between acting out of conscience and putting out yet another self-satisfied press release.

  3. “an endowment that covers more than half of our operating costs each year”: so PU operating costs are $52.2 billion/year. Wow… Really?

  4. Great!
    From all of these millions of dollars *voluntarily* donated to PU by various people, Princeton University *voluntarily* gives back (in lieu of taxes) to Princeton 0.012%.
    Way to go Princeton, you definitely have support of Princeton Council members!

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