The Richest Universities in the US, RankedBy Yuri S.
When American high school juniors and seniors start applying to university, they consider many different factors. Everyone wants to go to a college with a fun campus life, an excellent academic reputation, and a recommended location. Some people who already know what they want to do when they grow up also choose a school geared towards their specific dream career.
Another essential thing to consider is the university’s endowment, because often, the richer the school, the better its facilities and professors are. Prestigious colleges and Ivy League universities gain billions of dollars every year in funding.
Ivy League Budgets
The multi-billion-dollar endowments of Ivy League schools in the United States allow these establishments to offer their applicants better conditions than regular colleges. This explains why many of the brightest and most influential people in the world studied at the same few institutions.
This also partially explains why going to Harvard or Princeton costs more money than going to a community college. Prominent universities expect more money for the merit they provide and the esteem that comes with gaining a degree in their name. But do they actually offer a better education?
Harvard University – $40,575,027,000
Harvard University is known for its highly competitive application process and low acceptance rate. But Harvard is also the wealthiest university in the United States of America, with its 2020 endowment standing at more than 40.5 billion dollars. Founded in 1636, Harvard has come a long way.
The esteemed institution is among the world’s most prestigious colleges. Harvard was named after John Harvard in 1639, who donated around $1,000 to the school, along with his personal library. Among Harvard’s most notable graduates are the 2nd president of the United States, John Adams, and Bill Gates.
The University of Texas – $31,958,313,000
By far the wealthiest public college in the US, the University of Texas system ranks second on our list with an endowment of almost 32 billion dollars. The system comprises thirteen colleges across the state, is often considered a “Public Ivy,” and is ranked among the ten most innovative university systems globally.
With an enrolment of around 240,000 students, it is the most extensive higher education system in Texas. Some notable graduates include Matthew McConaughey, Farrah Fawcett, and Alan Bean- the fourth man to walk on the moon.
Yale University – $31,201,700,000
Yale University is the third oldest college in the United States and was founded in 1701. The New Haven, Connecticut institution has an endowment worth over 31 billion dollars. Initially called the Collegiate School, the university was later renamed after a private benefactor named Elihu Yale.
Aside from several former US presidents, Yale also produced the likes of Paul Newman, Meryl Street, and Jodie Foster. Over the years, Yale has gained notoriety for its rumored secret society, known as The Skull and Bones, or The Order, which has been investigated in several documentaries.
Stanford University – $28,948,000,000
A private college in Stanford, California, Stanford University is one of the largest schools in America and one of the best in the world. The university was named by its founders the governor of California, Leland Stanford, and his wife, Jane, after their son Leland Jr. who died of typhoid fever in 1884.
With an endowment of nearly $29 billion, Stanford has the lowest acceptance rate in the US. Stanford is often called ‘the Harvard of the 21st century.’ Among the school’s notable alumni are Tiger Woods, Sally Ride, and Sigourney Weaver.
Princeton University – $26,558,643,000
Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, garnered a $25.5 billion endowment in 2020, the largest endowment per student in the US. Princeton is a private Ivy League establishment and is the fourth-oldest college in the United States, founded in 1746. The campus stretches across 600 acres and consists of over 200 buildings.
Among the notable alumni affiliated with Princeton are two US presidents, three Vice Presidents, twelve Supreme Court Justices, and 74 Nobel laureates. Another big name to graduate from the school is Jeff Bezos, the CEO, and founder of Amazon.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – $18,495,905,000
Known at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Renowned for its engineering department, the school also has a prestigious computer science school and notable departments of the natural sciences, business, architecture, and more.
With a current endowment of about $18.5 billion, MIT is among the most challenging schools to be accepted into, with the average accepted applicant’s GPA standing at 4.17. Some notable alumni include Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, and Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the UN.
University of Pennsylvania – $14,877,363,000
The University of Pennsylvania, aka UPenn, was founded in 1740 by none other than America’s founding father, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was also the school’s first president, back when it was called the College of Philadelphia. One of the top ten most selective colleges in the US, UPenn enjoys an endowment of almost $15 billion.
Among the University of Pennsylvania’s graduates are eight of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and twelve of those who signed the US Constitution. Other big names who attended UPenn are Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Noam Chomsky, John Legend, and Ezra Pound.
Texas A&M University – $13,594,482,611
Texas A&M University is a public land grant college with an endowment of over 13.5 billion dollars. A&M also boasts the second-largest student body in the United States, somewhat explaining its enormous budget. Founded in 1876, it was the first public higher education facility in the state of Texas.
The campus spans over 5,200 acres, making it one of the biggest in the country. Many of the school’s highly active alumni group, the Aggies, are now senators and congressmen, as are five NASA members and one former US president.
University of Michigan – $12,476,874,000
A public research college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the University of Michigan was founded in 1817. It was established when Michigan was still a territory and is the state’s oldest university. The school has graduated 26 Nobel Prize winners and numerous government officials, including Gerald Ford.
With over 83,000 applicants this past year, Michigan’s 2020 endowment reached a booming $12.4 billion. Actresses Lucy Liu and Selma Blair both earned degrees from the University of Michigan, while musicians Madonna and Iggy Pop both attended the school but dropped out before finishing their studies.
University of California – $12,141,762,000
The University of California is a public university system founded in 1868. The school has grown quite a lot since its first class of about 40 students to the approximately 280,000 who attend these days. Among the system’s notable campuses are UC Berkley, UCLA, and UCSF.
The system’s endowment in 2020 was over $12 billion. Most of the UC systems schools are ranked among the best campuses globally, and several made our list independently for their giant endowments. As of 2021, UC can boast 71 Nobel Prize winners among its alumni.
University of Notre Dame – $11,962,820,000
The University of Notre Dame is a private Catholic college in Notre Dame, Indiana. Founded in 1842, the school is known for its athletics teams. Known collectively as the Fighting Irish, their football is the most famous of all. The school is ranked 24th on the list of best value colleges in the US.
Whether because of its high-profile academics or championship winnings sports teams, Notre Dame’s endowment reached almost $12 billion last year. Among the famous alumni of the university are Regis Philbin and Condoleezza Rice. It is widely considered a modern Ivy League establishment.
Columbia University – $11,257,021,000
Columbia University is a private college in Manhattan, New York. Founded in 1754, it is the oldest university in the state of New York and the 5th oldest nationwide. As an Ivy League establishment, Columbia is among the toughest schools to get into, and its acceptance rate is as low as 5%.
Columbia’s 2020 endowment reached $11.2 billion. The school’s notable scholars and scientists are known for their breakthroughs in nuclear science and brain-computer interface. The school has graduated five founding fathers and three US presidents, as well as Amelia Earhart, Langston Hughes, and J.D. Salinger.
Northwestern University – $10,926,510,000
Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern is a private research university. Founded in 1851 by John Evans, in what used to be called the northwest territory, it’s the oldest school in what is now Illinois. Northwestern has a very selective acceptance rate, and 92% of its students were in the top ten of their high school’s graduating class.
In the last academic year, the school’s endowment was just under $11 billion, though it has reportedly grown and will soon become higher on this list. Among the establishment’s most well-known alumni are George R.R. Martin, Meghan Markell, and Harold Washington.
Duke University – $8,474,071,000
Established by Methodists and Quakers in Trinity in 1838, Duke University is located nowadays in Durham, North Carolina. The school enjoyed several names before it was renamed in 1924, after tobacco industrialist Washington Duke, by his son James Buchanan Duke who created the Duke Endowment.
Today the school’s endowment is around $8.5 billion. The campus covers over 8,600 acres of land throughout Durham and Beaufort. Aside from graduating a former US president, the school was home to 14 people who are now billionaires, including Tim Cook, the COO of Apple, and Melinda Gates, the ex-wife of Bill Gates.
Washington University in St. Louis – $8,420,497,000
In 1976 Washington University added the words in St. Louis to its name to avoid confusion with schools located in Washington state and Washington DC. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the school was founded in 1853 and is named after George Washington.
Ranked among the top 20 best universities in the US, the impressive institution’s endowment reached $8.4 billion in 2020. The school has an acceptance rate of 12.8%. Among those who have called Washington University, their alma mater are astronaut Bob Behnken and Phil Radford, the CEO of Greenpeace.
University of Chicago – $8,204,461,000
Founded in 1890, the University of Chicago is a private research college in Hyde Park. Ranked among the best schools in the world, the school’s endowment was approximately $8.2 billion in 2020. This institution has helped develop many academic disciplines such as economics, law, and literary criticism and is the home of the largest university press in America.
Among the staff, faculty, and alumni, there have been 101 Nobel Prize winners. The school has also been the home to 29 people who are now billionaires and 8 Olympic medalists. Some well-known graduates include Phillip Roth and Kurt Vonnegut.
Emory University – $7,936,988,000
Founded in 1836 and initially called Emory College, Emory University is a private research university in Atlanta, Georgia. Emory owns the most extensive healthcare system in the state of Georgia, including the renowned Emory University Hospital. As of 2020, Emory University had the 17th largest endowment in the nation, at almost $8 billion.
Among Emory’s alumni are one US vice president, one supreme court justice, and one speaker of the house. Other graduates are fashion designer Kenneth Cole and the guitarist of R.E.M. Peter Buck. Noteworthy faculty members include Jimmy Carter and Salman Rushdie.
University of Virginia – $7,255,701,000
Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson himself, the University of Virginia is a public research school located in Charlottesville. Considered the third-best of all public colleges in the country, UVA had a 7.25-billion-dollar endowment in 2020. The school’s grounds house a UNESCO world heritage site, the Academical Village.
Some big names who went to UVA are Edgar Allen Poe, Bobby Kennedy, Alexis Ohanian & Steve Huffman, the founders of Reddit. UVA is also notorious for its secret societies, including The Purple Shadows, The Sons and Daughters of Liberty, and The Order of Claw & Dagger.
Cornell University – $7,218,688,000
Cornell is the newest university officially included in the prestigious Ivy League after it was founded in 1865. Located in Ithaca, New York, the school was established by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. The campus itself encompasses 745 beautiful acres, while another 4,000 adjacent acres are dedicated to the Cornell Botanic Gardens.
Cornell’s endowment in 2020 reached just over $7.2 billion, the third smallest of the Ivies. Among Cornell’s graduates are Bill Nye, The Science Guy, Robert Atkins (of the Atkins diet), Henry Heimlich (of the Heimlich maneuver), Tony Morrison, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Vanderbilt University – $6,917,371,000
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, a private research college, was founded in 1873. The school is named after the shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt who donated the university’s initial one-million-dollar endowment back in the day. Nowadays, the college’s endowment fund has grown to almost $7 billion.
Aside from numerous government officials and billionaires, the school is the alma mater of Robert Penn Warren, James Patterson, and Al Gore. Vanderbilt has mainly been credited with the revival of Southern literature with the help of groups like The Fugitives and the Southern Agrarians.
Johns Hopkins University – $6,750,092,000
Founded in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1876, Johns Hopkins University is a private research university and actually the first research university in America. The school is named after its original benefactor, the philanthropical entrepreneur, and abolitionist, Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins Hospital is also named after him, as he funded it as well.
Known for its prestigious medical, nursing, and engineering schools, as well as its sports teams, Johns Hopkins’ endowment fund stood at 6.7 billion dollars as of 2020. Woodrow Wilson, Gertrude Stein, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Tori Amos are among the university’s notable alumni.
Rice University – $6,163,926,000
Founded in 1912, Rice University is the youngest on our list so far. The private research university was named after William Marsh Rice, who was murdered by his valet and left his vast fortune to fund the school. As of 2020, the small Houston, Texas college’s endowment has grown to $6.16 billion.
Rice University is closely linked to NASA and has graduated many space scientists and astronauts. Among the school’s alumni not affiliated with NASA are engineer and film director Howard Hughes, author Larry McMurtry, and Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston, Texas.
Dartmouth College – $5,975,180,000
Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College is another private Ivy League research establishment. Dartmouth was actually founded by Eleazar Wheelock to educate Native Americans in the English way of life, such as liberal arts and Christian theology, before becoming a school for Congregationalist ministers.
These days, the college is one of national prominence and prestige, with an endowment fund of almost $6 billion. Aside from educating 170 congress members and senators, Dartmouth has been a home to Nelson A. Rockefeller, Shonda Rhimes, Connie Britton, Robert Frost, and Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.
University of Southern California – $5,914,358,000
Formed in 1880, the University of Southern California, or USC, was the first private research college in the state. With an endowment of almost $6 billion and a budget of $5.5 billion, USC is among the country’s top schools. The university is known for its many technological inventions, including antivirus software and the Domain Name System.
USC’s athletics’ association, the Trojans, have gained more Olympic medals (326 in total) than any other college in America. Neil Armstrong, Judd Apatow, John Wayne, Pat Nixon, O.J. Simpson, and George Lucas are among the college’s most notable alumni.
Ohio State University – $5,287,131,000
The flagship school of the University System of Ohio, Ohio State University, is a public research establishment founded in 1870 in Columbus. Considered broadly to be a Public Ivy, OSU was ranked 17th on the US News & World Report’s list of the best public colleges in the US.
The university had an endowment of $5.2 billion as of 2020. OSU is known for its poli-sci department and its football team, which is among the best college teams in the country and produced players like Chic Harley and Troy Smith. The school’s football program alone is worth $1.5 billion.
Brown University – $4,377,466,000
The last official Ivy League university to make our list is Brown, with an endowment of $4.3 billion as of 2020. Brown University is located in Providence, Rhode Island, and was founded in 1764, making it the 7th oldest higher education establishment in America.
Brown accepted students no matter their religion from the day it opened, unlike the other colonial colleges. Brown’s acceptance rate is extremely low, at 5.4%, making it one of the nation’s most selective colleges. Some famous alumni are Emma Watson, Daveed Diggs, Horace Mann, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and John F. Kennedy Jr.
New York University – $4,323,652,000
Chartered in 1831 by the state legislature, New York University is located in downtown Manhattan. Known as NYU, it is a private research university. The school’s endowment fund stood at $4.3 billion in 2020, while its annual budget reached almost $12 billion.
NYU has the largest student body of any private college in America and is known for its prestigious Tisch School of Arts. Despite ranking lower than many colleges on our list academically, NYU is consistently on the country’s top ten dream colleges list. Notable alumni include Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, Donald Glover, and Angelina Jolie.
University of Pittsburgh – $4,172,380,000
The University of Pittsburgh is a public university in Pennsylvania, often referred to as Pitt. When founded in 1787, it was a private college called Pittsburgh Academy, but after catching fire twice and moving various locations, the school finally settled on its present name and location.
With an endowment fund of $4.17 billion and a budget of $2.4 billion, Pitt was ranked at #9 on a 2015 list of top US research universities. It is among the public universities with the best value and has educated the likes of Gene Kelly, John Irving, and Mister (Fred) Rogers.
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – $3,871,526,000
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, aka the U of M, is a public research college. The university’s campus is split between the twin cities- Minneapolis and St. Paul. Founded in 1851, the U of M is the oldest college in the state and is considered a Public Ivy.
Minnesota boasts the sixth-largest student body in the country and was ranked the 24th best university in America in 2021. The school has an endowment of $3.8 billion. Notable alumni include Hubert Humphrey, Henry Fonda, and musician and songwriter Bob Dylan, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature.
The University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill – $3,712,117,000
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill first welcomed young prospective academics in 1795, cementing its place as one of the nation’s oldest public higher education institutions. Nowadays, the pastoral Chapel Hill, North Carolina campus educates around 30,000 students every year.
In 2020, the school’s endowment stood at $3.71 billion. Consistently considered a Public Ivy, UNC-Chapel Hill is ranked as the 5th best public university in America as of 2021. Among those who call UNC their alma mater are James K. Polk, Andy Griffith, Shelby Foote, and Thomas Wolfe.
Pennsylvania State University – $3,402,938,000
Established in 1855, Pennsylvania State University, aka Penn State, is a public research school. The college was initially called the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania and now encompasses various campuses throughout the state. The University Park campus has been dubbed a Public Ivy.
Penn State is one of the largest universities in America and offers more than 160 different majors. As of 2020, the school had an endowment fund of $3.4 billion and a budget of $7 billion. Some notable alumni include Keegan- Michael Key, Lara Spencer, and Steve McCurry.
The University of Wisconsin – $3,178,687,000
Established in 1848, the University of Wisconsin in Madison is a public research college. UW has been called a Public Ivy, and as of 2020, had an endowment of $3.17 billion. It is the largest and the oldest public university in the state of Wisconsin and the largest employer in the state.
Both parents of Steve Jobs, the famous co-founder of Apple, called UW- Madison their alma mater. Other notable alumni include the seminal architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean successfully.
The University of Washington – $3,075,651,000
Founded in 1861, The University of Washington, in Seattle, Washington, is a public research school. Among the oldest schools on the West coast, U-Dub had an endowment of over $3 billion last year and a budget of almost $8 billion. Paul G. Allen and Bill Gates spent their time in Washington’s computer labs before founding Microsoft.
UW has been called a Public Ivy for the past twenty years and has been ranked among the top 20 universities globally by the ARWU every year. Notable alums include Bruce Lee, Kyle MacLachlan, Michael P. Anderson, Isaiah Thomas, and Tom Foley.
Michigan State University - $3,068,700,000
Michigan State University, or MSU, is a public research school founded in 1855 in East Lansing, Michigan, formerly called the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. MSU is among the first colleges in America to teach agriculture. The school had an endowment of just over $3 billion in 2020 and has one of the largest student bodies in the nation.
Michigan is known for its sports teams, the Spartans, especially its championship-winning football and basketball teams. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sam Raimi, Kirk Gibson, and James Caan are among the school’s alumni.
The University of California, Los Angeles – $2,880,225,000
Known as UCLA, the Los Angeles branch of the University of California alone had an endowment of $2.8 billion in 2020. The school was established in 1882 and is the second oldest branch of the University of California after UC- Berkley. UCLA’s athletics teams, the Bruins, have won 129 national championships.
Considered among the Public Ivies, UCLA was ranked #1 of the public universities in the 2021 US News & World Report Best Colleges list. Some famous people who studied at UCLA are Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Sara Bareilles, Francis Ford Coppola, Jim Morrison, Jackie Robinson, and Tom Bradley.
Williams College – $2,841,360,000
Founded in 1793, with funds left by Ephraim Williams, Williams College was an all-male school in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The school only officially began welcoming women into its halls in the 1960s. Williams is considered one of the nation’s best liberal arts colleges and holds an endowment of $2.8 billion.
Williams is known for its selective acceptance rate of 8 percent and is almost exclusively an undergraduate institution. The most famous person to graduate from Williams was former president James A. Garfield. Other notable alumni include Elia Kazan, Richard Helms, Stephen Sondheim, and Erin Burnett.
California Institute of Technology - $2,837,600,000
The California Institute of Technology, often called Caltech, is a private research school in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1891, it began as a vocational prep school but has since grown into a respected academic research institution. With a student body of just over 2000 people, Caltech’s $2.8 billion endowment can go a long way.
In a study from 2015, Caltech was proven to have the highest rate of graduates who continue their studies and earn PhDs. Some notable names to have graced Caltech’s halls are director Frank Capra and physicist Carl David Anderson.
Carnegie Mellon University – $2,670,760,000
Founded at the turn of the century, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, used to be called Carnegie Technical School. Funded and named after the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the school merged in 1965 with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.
The school’s endowment stood at $2.67 billion in 2020, approximately half of which is supplied by the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. In 2011, William S. Dietrich singlehandedly donated $265 million. Andy Warhol, Henry Mancini, George A. Romero, and Ted Denson all attended the prestigious institution.
Purdue University – $2,590,026,000
Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University is the flagship school of the Purdue system. It was founded in 1869 after John Purdue donated funds and land to make the college possible. The school’s budget nearly matched its $2.5 billion endowment in 2020.
Known for its excellence in research, Purdue has produced 13 Nobel laureates and 18 Olympic Medalists. As many as twenty-five astronauts have attended Purdue, including Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom. Other important former students from the school include basketball coach John Wooden, author Booth Tarkington, and COO of Mcdonalds’ Don Thompson.
Boston College – $2,577,000,000
Boston College is a private university founded in 1863 as a Jesuit college in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The school’s endowment has grown vastly over the years, going from a small liberal arts school to one of the 40 wealthiest universities in America, with a fund of $2.57 billion in 2020.
Much of this is due to several wealthy alumni who have donated hefty sums over the years, like Peter Lynch, who contributed $20 million, and Patrick Cadigan, who donated $15 million. Other notable alums include John Kerry, Ed McMahon, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, and Amy Poehler.
Amherst College – $2,565,148,000
Located in Amherst, Massachusetts, Amherst College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1821. At the time of its establishment, Amherst was meant to be a replacement for Williams College and was founded by Williams University’s president. In the end, both schools remained open and thrived.
Amherst only offers undergraduate degrees of four years, and its student body is relatively tiny and consistently under 2000 people. With an endowment fund at $2.5 billion in 2020, Amherst is consistently voted among the top 2 liberal arts schools in America. Notable alums include Calvin Coolidge and David Foster Wallace.
University of Iowa – $2,525,508,000
Another school that is considered a Public Ivy is the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. The school was founded in 1847 and is the oldest higher education institution in its home state. It is also the second-largest, with a campus covering 1,880 acres. In 2020, Iowa’s endowment reached $2.5 billion, much of which was donated by private contributors.
The university is known for its fine arts, law, and health care programs. Among the school’s well-known graduates are actors Gene Wilder and Ashton Kutcher, authors Marilynne Robinson and Flannery O’Connor, and the seminal playwright Tennessee Williams.
Boston University – $2,426,266,000
Boston University, or BU, is a private school in Boston, Massachusetts. The university was founded in 1839 by the United Methodist Church and was originally in Vermont. In 1867 the school moved to Boston and took its present name. The school has a large student body of approximately 34,000 students and an endowment of $2.4 billion.
Alexander Graham Bell was a professor at BU and invented the telephone in the school’s lab. Another VIP associated with Boston University is Martin Luther King Jr., who got his Ph.D. there. Other notable alums are Faye Dunaway, Joan Baez, and Anne Sexton.
Indiana University – $2,425,927,000
IU, aka Indiana University, is made up of nine campuses throughout the state of Indiana. It is a public research university known for its excellence in science and liberal arts. The flagship campus is IU Bloomington, which is considered a Public Ivy. IU’s total endowment as of 2020 was over $2.4 billion, while the institution’s budget stood at $3 billion.
The school’s most famous graduates include former vice president Mike Pence, actor Jonathan Banks, authors Meg Cabot and Suzanne Collins, NY Times crossword creator Will Shortz, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban.
University of Richmond – $2,410,768,000
A Baptist college, known upon its establishment in 1830 as Dunlora Academy and later a Virginia Baptist Seminary, today is the private liberal arts school, the University of Richmond. The school temporarily closed during the Civil War and was reopened in 1866 with the help of hefty donations.
Today the school’s endowment has reached $2.4 billion, with the help of donations like the $225 million given to the school by E. Claiborne Robins over the years. Among the school’s graduates is Leland D. Melvin, a former American football player and astronaut.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign – $2,403,813,000
Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois is a public university considered a Public Ivy. The school’s financial endowment was $2.4 billion but has grown substantially this year, reaching over $3.8 billion. With a 2020-2021 enrollment of over 56,000 students, it is the 6th largest university in America.
The school’s campus library is the second-largest university library in the nation, after Harvard. Among the U of I’s graduates are Martin Eberhard, the co-founder of Tesla Motors; Steve Chen, the co-founder of YouTube; and C.E. Woolman, the founder of Delta Air Lines.
The University of Rochester – $2,329,949,000
Established in 1850, the University of Rochester is a private university in Rochester, New York. Made up of 158 buildings, the school is the largest employer in its region of the state. Known for its engineering, sciences, and arts faculties, its 2020 financial endowment stood at $2.3 billion.
Rochester’s prestigious Eastman School of Music is consistently ranked as the best undergraduate music school in America and has the most extensive music library. Among the school’s alumni and faculty are 13 Nobel Prize winners, 13 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 45 Grammy Awards winners.
Rockefeller University – $2,316,968,000
Founded in 1901 in Manhattan’s Upper Eastside, Rockefeller University was initially an institute for medical research. The school was established by John D. Rockefeller Sr. and still, today focuses mainly on medical and biological sciences. The school doesn’t offer undergraduate degrees.
The Rockefeller family is still highly invested in the school, and in 2012, David Rockefeller donated $100 million, helping bring the school’s endowment to the $2.3 billion it stands at now. The school’s faculty is small, with only around 80 staff members, as is the student body, made up of less than 250 students.
Wellesley College - $2,285,397,000
The first women’s college on our list, Wellesley College, is a private, women’s only liberal arts school founded in 1879 in Wellesley, Massachusetts. With its $2.2 billion endowment, it is the wealthiest women’s college in America. As of 2015, the school began accepting non-binary, gender-queer, and transgender students in addition to women.
Wellesley is ranked at the best all-female liberal arts college and 44th in the overall list of US colleges. The school’s most famous alumni are Hilary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Diane Sawyer, Nora Ephron, Ali McGraw, and former astronaut Pamela Melroy.
Pomona College – $2,257,399,000
Located in Claremont, California, Pomona College is a private liberal arts school, with an admissions process so selective it is often compared to that of an Ivy. Pomona was founded in 1887 by a group of protestants who wanted to establish a New England-esque school in Southern California.
Today the school is considered the most prestigious liberal arts institution on the West Coast, and its endowment has reached $2.25 billion. Some notable attendees include the composer John Cage; Roy E. Disney, the son of Walk Disney; and Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Jennifer Doudna.
Georgia Institute of Technology - $2,169,707,000
Georgia Institute of Technology, aka Georgia Tech, is a public university in Atlanta. Founded in 1885, Georgia Tech initially offered only one degree in mechanical engineering. Today the school has 31 departments but still focuses on technology, engineering, and science.
The school’s first class graduated in 1890 with two graduates. With an endowment of 2.1 billion dollars and a budget of 2 billion dollars, Georgia Tech has grown quite a lot since its humble beginnings with a student body of around 20,000 people. Jimmy Carter briefly attended the school in the 1940s.
University of California, Berkeley – $2,117,306,000
UC- Berkeley is the first campus ever opened as part of the University of California system. Established in 1868, it sits in the city of Berkeley, California. Despite being a public university, in 2021, Berkeley was ranked #1 academically in Forbes. The school is commonly referred to as just Berkeley, or when regarding athletics as Cal.
The prestigious university has been a home to many famous faces, including Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple; Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel; actor Gregory Peck; authors Phillip K. Dick, Rebecca Solnit, and Joan Didion, artist Ai Weiwei, and musician Susanna Hoffs.
Swarthmore College - $2,103,670,000
Founded in 1864, Swarthmore College is known for being among the first colleges in America to offer education to women as well as men. Located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, the school was established by Quakers but became non-sectarian in 1906. It has one of the country’s most beautiful campuses that spreads across 400 pastoral acres.
As of 2020, the school’s endowment had reached $2.1 billion. Some notable names who attended Swarthmore include Alice Paul, the National Women’s Party founder, politician Michael Dukakis, author Jonathan Franzen, and Nobel Prize winner Jonathan C. Mather.
Grinnell College – $2,090,750,000
Originally called Iowa College, Grinnell College was founded in 1846 in Grinnell, Iowa. The school has the fifth-highest endowment-to-student ratio of all US liberal arts schools and practices need-blind admissions, meaning that they accept applicants on merit, whether or not they have the money to pay tuition.
Considered a Hidden Ivy, Grinnell was voted the 13th best liberal arts college in 2021, and its endowment currently stands at more than $2 billion. Alumni include Robert Noyce Intel’s co-founder, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, and actors Kumail Nanjiani, Emily Bergl, and Gary Cooper.
University of California, San Francisco – $2,014,859,000
Yet another school part of the University of California system, UCSF, is located in San Francisco. The school was founded in 1864 as the Toland Medical College, before joining forces with UC in 1873 and changing its name. Known for its preeminence in life sciences and medicine, UCSF enjoys an endowment of $2 billion.
Aside from having the 3rd best hospital in the state, UCSF is also the second biggest employer in San Francisco Bay. Among the school’s alumni are Priscilla Chan (Mark Zuckerberg’s spouse) and Richard Carmona (the former Surgeon General).
Virginia Commonwealth University – $1,992,338,000
Located in Richmond, Virginia, the Virginia Commonwealth University was established in 1838 as the medical department of Hampden–Sydney College. Now a public research institution, the school merged in 1968 with the Richmond Professional Institute and took on its present name.
Classified as a tier 1 university, the Virginia Commonwealth University has an endowment of 1.99 billion dollars. In 2015, the school’s arts and design department was ranked #1 of the US public universities. Notable alumni include SNL star Jay Pharoah, Nobel Prize winner Baruj Benacerraf, and author David Baldacci.
Smith College - $1,907,178,000
Opened in 1875 by Sophia Smith, Smith College is an all-women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts. Smith is a private, liberal arts school and a member of the Seven Sisters Colleges’ group. With an endowment of $1.9 billion, Smith is the second wealthiest all-female school in America.
Smith’s undergraduate program began accepting transgender women in 2015, and their graduate program is open to anyone regardless of gender. The school has an impressive alumni roster, including Gloria Steinem, Sylvia Plath, Julia Child, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Catherine MacKinnon, Tammy Baldwin, and Betty Friedan.
Tufts University – $1,889,477,000
Located on the border between the towns of Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts, Tufts University is a private school that dates back to 1852. The school began as a humble liberal arts college but has grown into a more prominent research university. Well-regarded for its study-abroad programs, Tufts has a $1.88 billion endowment fund.
The school has programs affiliated with its neighboring schools Harvard and MIT. Among the institution’s alumni are Michelle Kwan, Tracey Chapman, former child-prodigy Nobert Wiener, Hank Azaria, Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase.
Georgetown University – $1,863,711,000
The first school on our list located in the District of Columbia, Georgetown University, was founded in 1789. Known for its selective admissions policy, Georgetown’s 2020 endowment fund held $1.8 billion. Considered among the best private universities globally, Georgetown’s ranking varies greatly depending on the publication.
Because of its DC location, the school has many political alumni, including Eric, Ivanka, and Tiffany Trump, Bill Clinton, LBJ, Pat Buchanan, and many more senators, congress members, lobbyists, ambassadors, judges, and White House staff. Other non-political attendees include Bradley Cooper, John Barrymore, and John Mulaney.
Case Western Reserve University – $1,850,806,000
Located in Cleveland, Ohio, Case Western Reserve University is a private research institution. The school is relatively new and was officially founded in 1967, though it was active under the name Western Reserve College beginning in 1826 and later Western Reserve University.
The school’s colossal endowment is primarily attributed to the many donations contributed by the school’s generous alumni, including Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, Paul Buchheit, who created Gmail, and Peter Tippett Norton AntiVirus’s developer. Other alums include the Russo Brothers and Herbert Henry Dow, founder of Dow Chemical.
The University of Florida – $1,846,611,000
A public land grant university located in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida, or UF, was established in 1853 but moved to Gainesville in 1906. Considered among the top three schools in its home state, UF has an endowment of $1.8 billion. In 2021 UF was ranked as the 25th best school in the US by Forbes, making it a Public Ivy.
The University of Florida is considered among the top 10 best public universities in the US and is also voted among the best valued public colleges. Noteworthy graduates include Marshall Nirenberg, Marco Rubio, Emmitt Smith, and Stephen Stills.
The University of Kansas – $1,805,836,000
Located in Lawrence, Kansas, the University of Kansas is the biggest and wealthiest school in the state. Founded in 1865, it’s a public university known primarily for its athletics programs and basketball legacy. James Naismith, the inventor of the sport of basketball, wrote the rulebook for the sport and founded KU’s basketball program.
With an endowment of $1.8 billion, KU has an indoor basketball arena called Allen Fieldhouse, which is considered among the best home-court advantages in the world. The school has produced many top NBA players, including Will Chamberlain and Paul Pierce.
George Washington University – $1,802,656,000
Chartered by the US Congress in 1821, George Washington University is a private research school in Washington, DC. It is the largest college in the District of Columbia and was named in honor of George Washington, who had advocated throughout his career for a university in the capital.
The school’s 2020 endowment fund stood at 1.8 billion dollars, with a nearly matching budget of $1.7 billion. Ranked in the top 100 universities in the country, the school is known for producing billionaires. Some famous alumni include J. Edgar Hoover, Colin Powell, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Kerry Washington.
Bowdoin College – $1,782,278,000
Located in Brunswick, Maine, Bowdoin College was established in 1794 when Maine was still part of Massachusetts. Ranked as the 6th best liberal arts college in the US, Bowdoin’s endowment stands at $1.78 billion. The school is considered a Hidden Ivy or a New Ivy.
The school’s mascot is a polar bear in honor of their alumnus Robert Peary, who led the first successful exhibition to the North Pole. Other notable alums include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alfred Kinsey, Reed Hastings (the founder of Netflix), and Peter Buck (the co-founder of Subway).
University of Nebraska – $1,735,305,000
Founded in 1869, the University of Nebraska began with one campus in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nowadays, it’s a public university system; however, the flagship campus is still in Lincoln, called UNL. Nebraska has an endowment of $1.7 to operate all of its campuses.
The school’s athletics programs are called the Cornhuskers. Their football team is especially successful, and every one of their games is sold out. Notable Alumni of the University of Nebraska System include Warren Buffett and his father Howards Buffett, tv host Johnny Carson, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter.
University of Missouri – $1,732,508,000
The University of Missouri System was founded in 1839 with its flagship campus in Columbia, Missouri. Nicknamed Mizzou, it was the first public college established west of the Mississippi River. The UM system holds a collective endowment of $1.7 billion for all four of its colleges together.
Known for its lenient admissions policy, the school accepts almost 80% of its freshman applicants. Among Mizzou’s most famous alumni are Brad Pitt, Sheryl Crow, Jon Hamm, Ian Kinsler, Sam Walton (the founder of Walmart), and Tennessee Williams. The school has been involved in various race-related controversies.
Liberty University – $1,714,463,000
Founded in 1971 by televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr., Liberty University is a private school in Lynchburg, Virginia. It is an Evangelical Christian university and one of the world’s largest Christian institutions for higher education. Liberty is a not-for-profit school, and though it has a physical campus, most of its classes are held online.
All classes at Liberty lean towards conservative, Evangelical ideals, and the school prohibits alcohol use and premarital sex on campus. The school’s endowment was measured at $1.7 billion in 2020. Notable alums include Jonathan Falwell, Bill Keller, and William Franklin Graham.
Texas Christian University – $1,675,489,000
Located in Fort Worth, Texas, Texas Christian University (TCU) is a private university founded by Addison and Randolph Clark in 1873. The school is known for its affiliation with the Christian Church- Disciples of Christ. TCU was ranked in 2021 as the 80th best university in the US.
TCU’s endowment is currently approximated at $1.6 billion. Among the schools, more than 90,000 living alumni are writer Sue Monk Kidd, Journalist Bob Schieffer, Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, baseball pitcher Jake Arrieta, and many more.
Southern Methodist University – $1,650,089,000
Located in University Park, Dallas, Texas, Southern Methodist University, aka SMU, was founded in 1911 by the Methodist Church. The school, however, accepts applicants regardless of religious leaning. In 2020, SMU’s endowment reached $1.6 billion. Aside from the Dallas campus, SMU has campuses in Taos, New Mexico, and Plano, Texas too.
Ranked at #66 in 2021 in a list of the best universities in the nation, SMU is known for its innovation in theological research and its great social life and extracurriculars. Among the school’s noteworthy attendees are Laura Bush, Kathy Bates, and Jayne Mansfield.
Washington and Lee University – $1,630,163,000
Founded in 1749, Washington and Lee University (W&L) is among America’s top 10 oldest higher education institutions. Located in Lexington, Virginia is ranked as the 11th best liberal arts college in the US. The school adopted the name of George Washington after the former president endowed the school with a gift while it was struggling financially.
Nowadays, W&L’s endowment has grown to $1.6 billion. Aside from Robert E. Lee, who served as president of W&L after losing the Civil War, other notable people affiliated with the school include artist Cy Twombly and explorer Meriwether Lewis.