A down year for endowments

Fiscal year 2016 wasn’t a good year for higher education endowments.

From the $34.5 billion endowment at Harvard University to the $5.3 million endowment of Elgin Community College in Illinois, annual returns were down for most postsecondary institutions, according to an annual report from National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), which studied data from 805 U.S. colleges and universities.

Fewer than two dozen public two-year colleges made the list, with the bulk of them comprising the final 20 entries. Community colleges traditionally have not had large endowments, but a growing number of them have renewed their efforts to grow endowments as public funding — especially from state coffers — has steadily dropped over the past decade.

The highest-raking public two-year college on this list was Miami Dade College in Florida at 199, with its $409.4 million, which saw a market value drop of 5.8 percent from the previous year. Next came the Clark College Foundation in Washington at a 581 raking; it’s $57.7 million endowment dropped 4.2 percent from 2015.

The next two community colleges in the rankings were the Kentucky Community and Technical College System at No. 609 ($49.8 million, a 3.4 percent decrease) and Northampton County Area Community College in Pennsylvania at No. 649 ($40.8 million, a 3 percent drop).

Some community college endowments did see an increase, a couple even in the double digits. The Broome Community College Foundation in New York saw its fund increase 2 percent to $31.2 million, while North Iowa Area Community College saw its endowment increase 9.7 percent to $26.2 million. The Central Oregon Community College Foundation also saw a 5.6 percent increase, to $17.3 million, while the Midlands Technical College Foundation saw its endowment increase 19.4 percent, to $8.2 million.

While the size of the average endowment in the 2016 study was about $639.9 million, nearly half of the participating colleges had endowments that were $100 million or less.

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