Special Report

America’s 25 Richest Universities

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20. Vanderbilt University
> 2020 endowment: $6.9 billion
> Change from 2019: +10.3%
> Location: Nashville, Tennessee
> Fall 2019 undergraduate enrollment: 13,131
> Typical earnings 10 years after entry: $69,000

No school on this list has seen a larger increase in its endowment in fiscal 2020 than Vanderbilt University. The Nashville school’s endowment grew 10.3% throughout the fiscal year to $6.9 billion — leapfrogging that of Johns Hopkins and Rice to rank as the 20th largest in the nation. Nationwide, the average growth of endowments was 1.6%, though there were hundreds of endowments that shrank throughout fiscal 2020, in large part reflecting the stock market crash from February to April 2020.

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19. Cornell University
> 2020 endowment: $7.2 billion
> Change from 2019: -1.5%
> Location: Ithaca, New York
> Fall 2019 undergraduate enrollment: 24,027
> Typical earnings 10 years after entry: $77,200

Cornell University’s endowment of $7.2 billion is one of the 20 largest among U.S. colleges, though it is down 1.5% from $7.3 billion in 2019. Like many other colleges in America, Cornell University’s endowment contracted during the 2020 fiscal year, as the COVID-19 pandemic had major impacts on the markets and school finances. Cornell is one of eight Ivy League schools, seven of which have among the 25 largest endowments in America. Brown University is the only Ivy that did not make the cut, ranking 26th with an endowment of $4.4 billion.

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18. University of Virginia
> 2020 endowment: $7.3 billion
> Change from 2019: +2.8%
> Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
> Fall 2019 undergraduate enrollment: 25,012
> Typical earnings 10 years after entry: $61,200

University of Virginia is one of just six public schools with an endowment of over $5 billion. As a public school, UVA is one of the least expensive colleges to attend on this list, with an average net price of less than $18,000. Though the school admits fewer than a quarter of applicants, at 23.9%, it has one of the highest acceptance rates among schools on this list, which tend to be highly selective.

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17. Emory University
> 2020 endowment: $7.9 billion
> Change from 2019: +0.8%
> Location: Atlanta, Georgia
> Fall 2019 undergraduate enrollment: 14,415
> Typical earnings 10 years after entry: $66,000

Emory University’s endowment of $7.9 billion represents a 0.8% increase from the year before — smaller than the average increase of 1.6%, but larger than the median increase of 0.6%.

Emory University is a popular destination for foreign students, as 16.0% of the student body is made up of non-residents aliens.

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16. The University of Chicago
> 2020 endowment: $8.2 billion
> Change from 2019: -0.7%
> Location: Chicago, Illinois
> Fall 2019 undergraduate enrollment: 17,452
> Typical earnings 10 years after entry: $68,100

University of Chicago’s endowment shrank by nearly $60 million from fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2020, likely due at least in part to the pandemic-induced stock market crash from February to April 2020 (the fiscal year ended in June 2020). Yet its 2020 endowment of $8.2 billion is still one of the largest in the nation. As is the case for many universities with large endowments, Uchicago is very expensive to attend — its average cost of attendance is over $75,000, the only school in America where this is the case.