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Oct 20, 2016 10:00 AM EDT

Ivy League Universities Top List Of Schools With The Biggest Endowments

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Ivy League universities are known for their large endowments. These prestigious colleges generally have more money at their disposal. These funds are used to improve academic programs, school facilities, extracurricular activities and research as well as help students through financial aid.

According to U.S. News, Ivy League universities can easily afford to recruit the best professors. Moreover, large college endowments are believed to be an indication of wealthy alumni and generous donors.

The publication collated a list of the universities with the highest endowments. Ivy League universities top the list.

Harvard University topped the list with a $37,615,545,000 endowment reported for the end of the 2015 fiscal year. It is followed by fellow Ivy League institutions Yale University, with $25,542,983,000, and Princeton University, with $22,291,270,000.

Stanford University came in fourth place with $22,222,957,000 of endowment. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) rounded up the top 5 with $13,474,743,000.

In sixth place is the University of Pennsylvania, with $10,133,569,000. It is followed by the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor with $9,809,705,000. Texas A&M University, Columbia University and the University of Notre Dame completed the top 10 list with $9,754,202,036, $9,639,065,000 and $8,784,381,000.

Wealthy universities have been criticized for their large endowments. It was reported that the top 4 percent of colleges and universities have a third of all endowment wealth in higher education. Majority of those 138 schools, though, expect low-income families to shell out more than 60 percent of their income to cover the cost of attendance.

Deemed as the "$500 million club," these colleges benefit so much from their endowments because there is no required spending threshold and the funds are exempted from tax. With this, the Education Trust noted that these wealthy universities should enroll more low-income students and make education more affordable.

For their part, these universities argued that their endowments are unlike savings accounts from which funds can easily be drawn down. The institutions also said that they are raising money to cover the financial need of low-income students.

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