Elsewhere online
April 05, 2016

Colleges Defend Endowment Tax Break in Letters to Congress

In written responses to a Congressional inquiry about higher-education finances, the country's wealthiest private universities characterized their tax-exempt status as crucial to their academic and research missions and campus upkeep, Bloomberg writes.

Senate and House committees with oversight on tax policy had set an April 1 deadline for 56 institutions with $1 billion-plus endowments to provide details on how they raise money and use their investment funds. The investigation, launched in February, comes amid a growing debate over how much benefit students derive from ballooning endowments.

“The recognition and support the tax code offers to nonprofit organizations remain critical to Harvard’s success and excellence,” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust wrote to leaders of the Congressional committees. Harvard distributed $1.6 billion from its $37.6 billion endowment in fiscal 2015, making up 35 percent of the university's budget, with about $175 million going for undergraduate financial aid.