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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Senate Finance Committee requests endowment data from 136 schools

Published: February 1, 2008
Section: News

Last week, members of the United States Senate Finance Committee urged 136 American colleges to provide the committee with information regarding endowment growth and need-based financial aid, according to Sunday’s Washington Post.

Among other concerns, the committee is interested in understanding whether or not endowment growth has increased aid available to students. The Senate Finance Committee began this inquiry in order to determine if universities with high endowments have the capacity to devote a greater percentage of their endowment funds to financial aid.

This request for information comes after both Harvard and Yale pledged to lower tuition costs for lower and middle-income families by tapping into their endowments, reported the Post.

The 136 colleges in question have the highest endowments in the country. Brandeis ranks 106 with an endowment of $691,370, up 19.3% from last year, according to a study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton topped the list. UAA schools University of Chicago and Washington University ranked 13 and 16 respectively. Emory University and New York University ranked 17 and 31.

According to Fran Drolette, Vice President of Budget and Planning, in the 2007 fiscal year, “approximately 24% of the Brandeis endowment value was restricted for undergraduate financial aid.”

Statistics provided by Peter Giumette, Dean of Student Financial Services, show that approximately 60% of students in the class of 2011 received a scholarship from Brandeis. Nearly 15% of students in the class of 2011 received a merit scholarship from Brandeis and 47% received need-based aid from Brandeis or from the government.

In a Jan. 24 press release, the Senate Finance Committee released the text of the letter sent to the universities with the highest endowments.

The letter states, “it seems clear from recent actions by our nation’s top universities that there is much that can be accomplished by colleges and universities, particularly those with significant endowments, to control costs and provide real relief for students from low and middle income families.”

Among many specific questions regarding endowment policy, the letter requests information regarding what percentage of the endowment is reserved for financial aid and what percentage is reserved for need-based aid.