Universities Getting the Most Money from the Federal Government

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10. University of Pittsburgh
> Total federal funds: $580.3 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $861.2 million
> 2015 enrollment: 28,649
> 2016 endowment: $3.5 billion

Nearly two-thirds of the University of Pittsburgh’s research spending comes from federal coffers. Of the $561.2 million in federal research grants the university received in 2015, 84.1% came from the Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to grants and contracts for R&D, the University of Pittsburgh receives a relatively large sum of funding in the form of Pell Grants. Pitt’s 18,908 undergraduates received a total of $19.1 million in Pell Grants in 2015, more than a majority of schools.

In addition to grants and contracts for R&D, the University of Pittsburgh receives a relatively large sum of funding in the form of Pell Grants. Pitt’s 18,908 undergraduates received a total of $20.6 million in Pell Grants in 2016, more than a majority of schools.

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9. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
> Total federal funds: $599.2 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $966.8 million
> 2015 enrollment: 29,084
> 2016 endowment: $2.9 billion

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $599.2 million in federal grant money in 2015, the fifth most of any public university. Like most large research institutions, UNC allocated most of its R&D funds toward research in life sciences such as medicine and biology. Most of this funding came from the Department of Health and Human Services. However, the school also dedicates outsized portions of its R&D budget toward research in psychology and the social sciences. An estimated 4.8% of UNC’s total R&D spending goes to psychology research, compared to the 1.7% average for all universities. UNC also dedicates 9.2% of its total R&D spending to research in the social sciences, nearly three times the 3.4% average.

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8. The Pennsylvania State University
> Total federal funds: $599.8 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $791.0 million
> 2015 enrollment: 47,307
> 2016 endowment: $3.6 billion

Pennsylvania State University is one of the largest research partners of the U.S. Navy. Established in 1945 as a U.S. Navy University Affiliated Research Center, Penn State Applied Research Laboratory has conducted research in fluid dynamics, acoustics, and undersea weapons in support and development of naval technology. The Navy is a division of the Department of Defense, which funds 40.4% of Penn State’s total R&D activity, far more than the 13.5% average for all universities.

Penn State also funds 5.4% of its R&D with grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one of the largest shares of any school. At the end of 2016, the USDA awarded Penn State a $471,000 grant for a project studying the role of biodiversity in crop yields.

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7. Columbia University in the City of New York
> Total federal funds: $599.9 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $868.2 million
> 2015 enrollment: 28,086
> 2016 endowment: $9.0 billion

Columbia University is one of four Ivy League schools receiving more than $450 million in federal funds for R&D. Along with state government funds, nonprofit funding, and money from the school’s own coffers, Columbia spent $868.2 million on R&D in 2015. That same year, Columbia was awarded 119 patents, easily ranking it among the most innovative universities in the nation. The majority of R&D spending at the school goes toward life sciences research and encompasses a range of pursuits, from the ecology of tick-borne illnesses to neuroscience and the study of Alzheimer’s disease.

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6. University of Pennsylvania
> Total federal funds: $617.5 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $864.1 million
> 2015 enrollment: 24,876
> 2016 endowment: $10.7 billion

The University of Pennsylvania received $617.5 million in federal funding in 2015, more than any other Ivy League institution. Like nearly every other school on this list, the vast majority of government research funding comes from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently, the university began integrating its research findings with other academic disciplines. Under University President Amy Gutmann, the school purchased and renovated at the end of last year an old DuPont industrial site. The facility was converted into a 58,000 square foot laboratory and is intended to commercialize research discoveries.