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February 09, 2016

Congress Renews Scrutiny of Biggest College Endowments

Two Congressional committees are demanding data from the country's wealthiest universities on how they spend their investment funds, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. The 56 institutions set to receive letters going out from Capitol Hill investigators this week are also on the list of private colleges and universities whose endowments exceeded $1 billion in the 2014 fiscal year.

The Senate Finance Committee and a House Ways and Means subcommittee are seeking detailed information on how investment gains support student aid, fees paid to money managers, policies on naming rights for donors, and other fiscal matters. The Senate panel aggressively questioned colleges on their endowments in 2007 and '08. The new inquiries come amid a growing public debate over whether large university endowments should remain tax exempt and be subject to minimum spending requirements, as are charitable foundations.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on how Northwestern University, one of the institutions facing Congressional scrutiny, secured a series of megagifts in 2015.