Harvard is wealthier than more than HALF of the world’s countries

There are 195 countries in the world, and over half of them are poorer than Harvard University.

The Ivy League institution’s 2018 endowment was $38.3 billion, according to Stacker. This amount exceeds the wealth of any of more than half of the 195 countries around the world. To arrive at this determination, Campus Reform compared the endowment numbers listed by Stacker with the “total wealth” of each of the world’s countries, according to Credit Suisse’s 2018 Global Wealth Report.  

University endowments operate in a fashion similar to tax-exempt hedge funds, reported Stacker. Private institutions often use nonprofit status to avoid tax, but a provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will levy a small tax on schools with funds totaling more than $500,000 per student. Harvard has 36,012 students, with an endowment per student average of more than $1 million.

Campus Reform reached out to Harvard for a breakdown of funding allocation and to see what the school thought of the college vs. countries statistic, but received no comment in time for publication.

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With a 2018 endowment of $30.9 billion, the University of Texas system finished right beneath Harvard on Stacker’s list, as reported by KXAN.

UT Austin spokesman J.B. Bird told Campus Reform that diversity accounted for a “huge community” and that the funds “serve all people.” He highlighted that, among the individuals served by the funds are rural Texans.

Campus Reform also discussed the statistic with Karen Adler, the director of media relations for the UT system. 

“The UT System endowment is made up of several different endowments and they all have different restrictions on how they can be spent,” Adler said. “The Texas Constitution stipulates how money from the Permanent University Fund – which constitutes a large portion of the UT System endowment – can be spent.” 

Adler told Campus Reform that the UT system includes 240,000 students and 14 institutions.

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“Philanthropic gifts make up another significant portion of the endowment. Donors specify how the money is to be spent (scholarships, professorships, research, etc.), and the university is responsible for honoring donor intent. In general, most gifts are restricted.”

Other schools rounding out the top ten U.S. colleges with endowments larger than the total wealth of dozens of countries world’s are Yale University, Stanford University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Texas A&M University System, University of Michigan, and Northwestern University. 

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