For the Good of Illinois

The Wall Street Journal: The Ivy League Doesn’t Need Taxpayers’ Help

October 17, 2016 08:04 AM
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2016-06-16_22-05-09

Read the full editorial at The Wall Street Journal Here

 

The Ivy League Doesn’t Need Taxpayers’ Help

Colleges that hoard cash—endowments of $2 million per student—should be encouraged to spend it.

JAMES PIERESON and NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY

Oct. 16, 2016 5:22 p.m. ET

 

Donald Trump criticized universities last month for hoarding their endowments, saying that they "use the money to pay their administrators, to put donors’ names on their buildings." He added that "many universities spend more on private-equity fund managers than on tuition programs." Mr. Trump suggested that he would work with Congress to encourage colleges to direct more of their investments toward students.

 

That’s a laudable—and achievable—goal. Many of the schools with large endowments, such as those in the Ivy League, will protest that they are private institutions, and that the government shouldn’t tell them how to spend their money. But these colleges also receive massive cash transfers from the federal government, giving Washington a way to impel them to put their endowments to more responsible use.


As of 2014, the eight Ivy League schools had 58,982 undergraduate students and total endowment funds on hand of about $117 billion, according to a study from OpenTheBooks. That works out to roughly $2 million per student. Yet between 2010 and 2014, according to the same study, these schools received some $30 billion of taxpayer contracts, grants, direct payments, student assistance and tax exemption. In other words, federal cash and subsidies over that time averaged nearly $102,000 per student each year.


Washington is effectively paying colleges not to spend their endowments. Americans worry about skyrocketing tuition, but federal funds are allowing schools to shift cash to new buildings and administrative salaries, while taxpayers take care of the students.


Congress should pass a simple law to rectify the situation.

 

Read the full editorial at The Wall Street Journal Here

 

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