Princeton University's endowment totaled $37.7 billion in 2021 — $4.5 million per student. The school's entire annual operating expense was $1.86 billion, less than 5% of the value of the endowment.
The Ivy League university is apparently so rich that it can operate with no outside financial support, according to a claim made by author Malcolm Gladwell in a recent newsletter, and disputed by Harvard economics professor John Campbell in a letter to The Browser, Axios reported.
The university is capable of funding itself in perpetuity, even without research grants or tuition income. The endowment will probably decline in value in 2022, but over the long term, it's reasonable to expect the endowment to continue to grow more quickly than the university's expenses, Axios said.
Princeton's historical investment returns have been significantly higher than the rate of inflation in tuition and other education costs. The university made a 46.9% investment return in 2021.
Princeton is a tax-exempt nonprofit and pays only a small 1.4% excise tax on its investment returns. Its wealth allows it to attract the best researchers, who make it a center of academic excellence, which attracts even more money from funders, current students, and alumni.
Princeton's past students include Michelle Obama (former first lady of the United States), David Mathews (civilian leader), Oliver Ellsworth (former chief justice), Jeff Bezos (founder and CEO of Amazon), model Brooke Shields, and Pete Conrad (astronaut and commander of Apollo 12).
The cost of attendance at Princeton for 2022-23 is $79,540 and includes tuition ($57,410), room charge ($10,960), board rate ($7,670), and estimated miscellaneous expenses ($3,500).
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