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January 27, 2016

Survey Finds Big Slowdown in College Endowment Growth

After two years of double-digit gains, colleges and university investment funds grew a relatively meager 2.4 percent in the last school year, the Associated Press writes, citing the latest annual survey by the Commonfund Institute and the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

The report, released Wednesday, collates investment performance at more than 800 institutions for the 12 months ending June 30. The 2013 and '14 surveys showed endowment growth of about 12 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The poorer showing could put financial pressure on universities that use investment returns to fund scholarships and operations.

Big colleges fared best, with those that have endowments topping $1 billion showing 4.3 percent growth, in part because their resources allow them to employ a wider range of investment strategies, said William Jarvis, executive director of Commonfund. Slumping oil prices and China's economic downturn were factors in the overall endowment slowdown, he said.