Giving to colleges jumps

Driven primarily by gifts from individuals, the nation’s colleges and universities took in a combined $28 billion in charitable contributions last year, up 9.4 percent over 2005, a new study says.

The survey of more than 1,000 institutions of higher education, representing more than one in three of the four-year programs in the U.S., was conducted by the New York-based Council for Aid to Education.

Stanford led the pack, raising $911.16 million in 2006, followed by Harvard University with $594.94 million and Yale with $433.46 million.

Individuals contributed more than half the overall amount, the study says, with alumni giving alone growing 18.3 percent over 2005 to $8.4 billion, or one in three dollars raised overall.

Foundations accounted for more than one in four dollars raised, for a total of $7.1 billion, while corporations gave $4.6 billion.

The share of alumni who gave to their schools fell to 11.8 percent in 2006 from 12.4 in 2005, but the absolute number who gave increased, the study says, and the average gift amount grew.

Alumni tend to be more generous toward their undergraduate alma maters than they are toward schools they simply attended, or from which they received graduate degrees.

Gifts for capital improvements surged by 14 percent to $15 billion in 2006, the study says, while contributions for current operation grew 5.6 percent to $13 billion.

Gifts of stock grew slightly, with the average gift increasing 5.1 percent to $47,806 in 2006.

Meanwhile, the market value of college and university endowments jumped 15.2 percent for the almost 1,000 schools that reported year-to-year performance.

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