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Statistics Show College Donations on the Rise

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Significant budget cuts are wreaking havoc on colleges and universities across the country, but recent statistics show that college donations rose considerably in fiscal year 2011.

Donations from alumni, foundations, corporations and other organizations reached an impressive $30.3 billion—an 8.2% increase over 2010 and just the second time in history that higher education fundraising crossed the $30 billion mark.

Statistics come from the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey, conducted by the New York-based nonprofit organization Council for Aid to Education (CAE). Conducted online, CAE has managed the survey for over 50 years. Institutions are able to analyze and examine trends in their own fundraising and make comparisons to funds received by similar schools.

Inside Higher Ed reports that the growth in fundraising is good news, as most schools experienced a fairly large drop in college donations in 2009. Fundraising efforts were the best at the country’s more elite schools. Although more than 1,000 schools participated in the survey, 86% of 2011 college donations were given to one-quarter of participants, Bloomberg explains.

College Tuition Increases Still a Reality

Don’t get your hopes up and assume that tuition will drop—or at least not increase. It’s important to remember, as the Times Daily points out, that colleges usually have little say on how endowment dollars are spent. Completely unrestricted gifts—which can be used at the school’s discretion—made up just 7.9% of donations, while the rest were donated for specific purposes, such as research or scholarships. Approximately 14% of funds were given for buildings, property and equipment.

Top 10 College Donations, 2011

A press release issued by CAE reports that the top 10 fundraising universities in the country and the amounts they received in 2011 are as follows:

1. Stanford University ($709.42 million)

2. Harvard University ($639.15 million)

3. Yale University ($580.33 million)

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($534.34 million)

5. Columbia University ($495.56 million)

6. Johns Hopkins University ($485.41 million)

7. University of Pennsylvania ($437.72 million)

8. University of California–Los Angeles ($415.03 million)

9. University of California–San Francisco ($409.45 million)

10. University of Southern California ($402.41 million


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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