Poor Little Rich Universities

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Universities that cry poor while entertaining themselves lavishly are finding it harder to keep up their public service facade, even with progressive pundits. “The tax bills that the House and Senate passed in December finally took action, imposing a 1.4 percent tax on the largest endowments,” Neena Satija wrote in The Washington Monthly. “(As this article went to press, the final bill was still being negotiated.)”

“That move appears to be driven more by a growing Republican antipathy toward academia—the House version of the bill would have taxed the tuition waivers granted to graduate students—than by concerns about affordability. But universities haven’t done themselves any favors by being extremely cagey about how they spend their endowments.”

“When Congress asked dozens of schools to report on their spending in 2016, for instance, Harvard declined to say exactly how much of its $37 billion endowment is paid to the people who manage it. While most colleges did tell Congress what percentage of their annual endowment payout goes to financial aid, they generally didn’t elaborate further—such as on the proportion of aid that’s based on academic merit, which tends to benefit upper-middle-class students, versus financial need.”