US Colleges Raise a Record $41 Billion, So Why Is Tuition Still Climbing?
Money + Markets

US Colleges Raise a Record $41 Billion, So Why Is Tuition Still Climbing?

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times

American colleges and universities took in a record $41 billion in donations in 2016, but the contributions were concentrated among a handful of schools and often assigned to specific purposes.

More than a quarter of contributions went to just 20, mostly private, institutions, led by Harvard, Stanford and the University of Southern California, according to a new report from the Council for Aid to Education.

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While tuition at colleges has skyrocketed in the past decade, charitable support for higher education has focused on other areas, with research drawing the largest share of designated donations. About 16 percent of donations have gone toward financial aid, a share that has remained relatively steady since 2006.

Relatively weak stock market performance during the 2016 fiscal year, which ended June 30, meant fewer individual donations last year. Contributions from alumni fell 8.5 percent for the period to just under $10 billion. Even with the decline, alumni represent the second-largest source of philanthropic support for higher education.

Donations from corporations and foundations showed the largest increase in donations for the year, generating gifts worth $6.6 billion and $12.5 billion, respectively.

Overall, charitable contributions comprise just 10 percent of university spending, down from a high of 16 percent in 2000. The report projects that charitable giving will increase in 2017 if the stock market remains bullish.

Here are the 10 school that received the most donations last year:

Harvard University $1.19 billion
Stanford University $951.15 million
University of Southern California $666.64 million
Johns Hopkins University $657.29 million
University of California – San Francisco $595.94 million
Cornell University $588.26 million
Columbia University $584.81 million
University of Pennsylvania $542.85 million
University of Washington $541.44 million
Yale University $519.15 million