Colleges raise record $31.6 billion

While U.S. colleges and universities raised a record $31.6 billion in the year ending June 30, 2008, higher education is bracing for possible funding declines in 2009 and 2010, a new study says.

The 2008 total grew 6.2 percent over 2007, says the Voluntary Support of Education survey, published by the Council for Aid to Education.

But given the stock-market crash, the deep recession and reports of lackluster fundraising results this January, the council says giving could decline both this year and next.

Stanford University was the top fundraiser last year, bringing in $785 million, followed by Harvard University with $650.6 million and Columbia University with $495 million.

The nation’s top 20 universities raised $8.4 billion, more than a quarter of the total raised, yet they represent fewer than 2 percent of the institutions responding to the survey.

If the top 20 institutions were removed from the survey, fundraising for the remaining schools would have declined by 4.2 percent in 2008. Among universities not in the top 20, about half saw fundraising increases and half saw declines.

The number of gifts of securities fell 11.5 percent last year, the report says, and their overall value fell 10.6 percent.

Alumni participation also was down, falling to 11 percent in 2008 from 11.7 percent in 2007.

Participation by alumni who earned only undergraduate degrees, however, grew slightly to 13.9 percent from 13.4 percent.

And dollar support from alumni grew 5.2 percent last year, while contributions from other individuals grew 8.3 percent.

Schools received the largest share of their support from foundations, which contributed $9.1 billion, or about 28.8 percent of the total received last year.

Overall, foundation giving grew 7.1 percent.

Alumni contributed a total of $8.7 billion, or about 27.5 percent of the total in 2008.

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