Special Report

Universities Getting the Most Money from the Federal Government

5. University of California, San Diego
> Total federal funds: $643.0 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.1 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 32,906
> 2016 endowment: $536.1 million

Several University of California campuses are among the largest recipients of federal grants in the country. UC San Diego is not the largest UC school , but the university received about $108 million more in federal grants than the next largest federal funding recipient in the UC system.

Only slightly over one-third of enrolled undergraduates in 2015 were Pell Grant recipients, which is one of the smallest shares among UC schools. As is the case for all the schools receiving the most money from the federal government, the vast majority of San Diego’s federal funding comes through R&D grants. The University of California system received 489 U.S. utility patents in 2015, nearly double the patents awarded to MIT, the second largest recipient.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Stanford University
> Total federal funds: $679.6 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.0 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 16,980
> 2016 endowment: $22.4 billion

While the federal government provides Stanford most of its R&D funding, private corporations provide a relatively large share of the university’s research funding. An estimated 8.8% of all Stanford R&D spending is funded by private businesses, one of the largest shares of any university.

The university’s Office of Technology Licensing, through its work with Silicon Valley tech firms, has helped support Stanford’s strong relationship with private enterprise. The OTL helps students and faculty license their inventions and find business applications for their research. Stanford was awarded a total of 205 patents in 2015, the most of any academic institution other than MIT and the University of California system.

Source: Thinkstock

3. University of Michigan
> Total federal funds: $756.1 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.4 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 43,651
> 2016 endowment: $9.7 billion

One of the largest schools in the in the country, the University of Michigan receives significant federal funding. The school received over three-quarters of a billion dollars in 2015 from a range of government agencies, including the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The University of Michigan allocated 10.9% of of its $1.4 billion R&D budget to social sciences, a larger share than any other school on this list. The school’s Institute for Social Research has made a number of important contributions to the field in its 68 year history, including the founding of the study of organizational behavior and conducting the trials that confirmed the Salk polio vaccine was safe for public use.

Source: Thinkstock

2. University of Washington
> Total federal funds: $960.6 million
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.2 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 45,408
> 2016 endowment: $3.0 billion

Seattle’s University of Washington is one of the larger postsecondary institutions in the country, with enrollment over 45,000. The university received more than $960 million in federal funding, about $54 million of which came in the form of Pell Grants. However, like most schools on this list, most federal funds disbursed to UW go to research and development. The university spent approximately $1.2 billion on research and development, $907 million of which came from the U.S. government. Of that, the university allocated the largest share — about $500 million — to medical sciences. Another $130 million went to engineering research.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Johns Hopkins University
> Total federal funds: $2.0 billion
> Annual R&D expenditure: $2.3 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 22,686
> 2016 endowment: $3.4 billion

With $2.0 billion in federal R&D funding in 2015, Johns Hopkins University is the largest university research partner of the federal government. One of the major centers of innovation on campus is the Applied Physics Laboratory. Established in 1942, the APL has provided the Department of Defense with research in missile defense, space, and weapons systems. The DOD funds 40% of Johns Hopkins annual R&D spending, compared to the 14% average for all universities. NASA funds account for 11% of the school’s R&D expenditure, compared to the 4% average. Among the school’s many research accomplishments, Johns Hopkins was responsible for the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid and helped develop the first effective treatment for sickle cell anemia.