Princeton University’s endowment rises to $26.6 billion

Princeton University‚Äôs endowment earned a 5.6 percent gain for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. The endowment’s value stood at $26.6 billion at the end of the fiscal year, which is an increase of about half a billion dollars over the previous fiscal year.

The Princeton University Investment Co.(PRINCO), the university office that manages the endowment, certified the results during a meeting of its directors on Oct. 15.

The average annual return on the university’s endowment for the past decade is 10.6 percent, which places Princeton among the top percentile of 433 institutions listed by the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.

‚ÄúPrinceton has been fortunate to face the many financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic from a strong budgetary position, thanks in part to an endowment that is the result of generations of generosity from alumni and friends, as well as effective stewardship and investment by the trustees and PRINCO,‚ÄĚ Princeton University Provost Deborah Prentice said in a written statement. ‚ÄúThe endowment will continue to be a crucial tool as we pursue our four key priorities in these challenging times: ensuring the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff; restoring our teaching and research activities to normal operations, safely but as soon as possible; sustaining our commitments to access and affordability; and retaining and supporting our talented workforce.‚ÄĚ

The endowment is made up of more than 4,000 funds that have been established since the university‚Äôs founding. School officials said endowment payouts and other investment income funds more than 60 percent of Princeton University‚Äôs operating budget. Endowment funds cover more than 80 percent of the undergraduate financial aid budget, and the endowment supports graduate students and their research.

11 Comments

  1. It is incredible that they do not pay property taxes on most of their assets, nor do they contribute to the public schools in Princeton, NJ at a legal rate. This money just sitting there growing, billing of dollars, while everyone else struggles, it is really representative of what a leech this University is on this community…. and what a slaveowner, and what a problem…

    It is also interesting that Princeton is really a bank or some sort of investment firm and tax write-off for the rich. It is like the entire University and this endowment exist only so rich people do not have to pay taxes and their fair share… when you start to turn this over, it is pretty unbelievable… that this is allowed to go on.. Some of this money should be taken from Princeton and used to fund healthcare for all in the U.S.

    Front page of NYT has an article today saying that this money cannot be used for education or to keep folks in education gainfully employed… and the is the experience of most folks who live in Princeton, NJ who see that none of their billions is for the public schools… for example…

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/26/us/colleges-coronavirus-budget-cuts.html

  2. Hello Nancy Drew,
    While I agree with many of your comments and believe Princeton U can contribute more to the town, I feel it would be appropriate and transparent to share the U’s own disclosure that it pays $9.3 million in tax contributions to the municipality of Princeton. This disclosure is visible here:

    https://www.princeton.edu/news/2020/02/26/university-contributions-princeton-town-2019-summary

    There is a partnership with the town and the University, but I strongly believe the U can and should contribute MUCH MORE to the town’s budget.

    The reason for this is that the town must pay to maintain its roads, infrastructure, public safety etc to support the town’s public resources P.U. employees and students use daily. Most of the roads used by U employees and students are maintained and paid for by the town’s people. I would hope that presumptive new Mayor Mark Freda makes it a priority to renegotiate the U’s tax contribution to the town. P.U. should DOUBLE the amount of its tax contribution to the municipality of Princeton.

    So many of the U’s professors and employees would benefit if the U spent a bit more with the municipality and its school system for example. It is quite a disparity that many of Princeton’s local public schools don’t even have updated water fountains with filtered water. Many faucets in PPS bathrooms simply do not work or have running water. The disparity between the U and the municipality is striking. There is much aging infrastructure in the town, but P.U. is maintained and updated like a jewel. In my opinion, P.U. donating more to the town annually as part of its tax contribution would do much to improve not only the local community but the overall P.U. experience. Princeton University will benefit by making its support of the town a higher priority.

  3. I can’t help but wonder why, given this information, they failed to give annual raises to staff members. These same staff members who were considered essential employees during the pandemic.

  4. Getting the university endowment to pay for things outside of the university would have the opposite effect: alumni would not donate if they knew their donations were going to pay for filtered water at the local public school. The endowment is to pay for the expenses of the university and those who otherwise could not afford to go there. Those same people become alumni, graduate, become successful and donate. Vicariously, the town of Princeton see success through high property values, tourism, business revenue, etc. Unfortunately, there is none of that this year. For anyone. It’s not appropriate to stand outside the gates of the mansion with our hands out when the people within the mansion are living off the generosity of others. That social contract of how donations are spent cannot be broken or else the entire town will suffer greater pain in the long run. This too shall pass. It’s not time to storm the Bastille with stale baguettes in hand. No one inside is screaming, “let them eat cake”, for they themselves must wait for their cake to be donated.

  5. @JoHaney I agree. The town already made the business-unfriendly decision to raise parking in the fall, which sent shoppers to other places, and then the pandemic. I don’t understand why the town hasn’t lifted or significantly reduced parking fees over the past six months. Most of the time, downtown is dead and there is plenty of open parking. The rationale for the high parking rates doesn’t exist currently. The town should adapt to support the local businesses. Their actions suggest that they don’t care, which isn’t true, but the inaction is costly.

  6. $9.3 million on $26.6 billion? And that is their savings and profit not even all the property they own tax free…

    The $9.3 from them it might as well be 0. Someone should calculate and publish here what they owe as the for-profit corporation that they are.. and that is what they should pay. Slavery is over. The slaveowner should have to pay taxes and there should be a wealth tax on Princeton U endowment.

  7. Who would not agree to let Princeton pay its share toward the water fountains in the public schools its own staff send their children? What does this statement do to the Princeton degree to the value of it in a society that manages its debt and its moral fabric?

  8. The University could pay for free parking for everyone. They offered $250,000 to local retail in a pandemic? And took $ 2 million more from the gov PPP loans and only gave that back when PP wrote about it? The $250,000 grants to failing retail right in front of their gates is also an abomination given the more than $25 BILLION in their accounts. Pick the fight that needs picking. The University IS the problem.

  9. Nancy, you seem to be under the assumption that Princeton is allowed to spend the bulk of its endowment. In reality, to stay a not for profit, they need to spend the earnings on the invested money and keep the bulk untouched to be sure it still earns enough in good times and bad to pay for it all. This includes full tuition and often room and board for underprivileged kids who otherwise could not attend. I’m not sure who the “they” and the “slave owners” are that you’re referring to, but the average grant for the Class of 2023 was $56,500 (https://admission.princeton.edu/cost-aid/financial-aid-numbers) so I can assure you the endowment is under a lot of strain in years when the stock market is down and, like this year, many students opt to take a whole year off. Princeton University is already paying its “share” toward water fountains all around campus and paying good salaries to citizens in town who can then afford to pay their property taxes that support the public schools. I was one of those black underprivileged kids who could not even dream of going to Princeton without aid. Now I am a donor. And I can assure you, if someone told me my donation was not going to help other underprivileged kids attend Princeton University, but rather to buy water fountains for public school kids in what is essentially a privileged community, I most certainly would not donate. Neither would the bulk of donors, and the town of Princeton would collapse. Along with the public schools.

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