A recent op-ed published by The New York Times stated that Yale and other leading schools, despite large endowments, do not spend enough on their students.
The criticism, which rested on speculation about endowment management costs and inexplicably limited the resources spent on behalf of students only to financial aid and other grants, obscures how much support the endowment provides for Yale, and how affordable Yale is for students.
Thanks to the generosity of alumni and other donors, and the superb management by Yale’s investment team, the endowment provides more than $1 billion a year for Yale’s budget, an amount equal to 33% of the budget. The endowment revenue, which is much greater than revenue from student tuition, helps pay for faculty, programs, and other resources that benefit students, whether they receive financial aid or not.
And Yale spends generously on financial aid, so it is affordable for everyone who is admitted.
More than half the students in Yale College receive financial aid from Yale, and the median annual cost for students receiving aid from Yale and other sources is less than $12,000. Families with incomes under $65,000 pay nothing for their child's Yale education. In the graduate school, all Ph.D. students receive generous annual fellowships of nearly $30,000, enjoy free health care, and pay no tuition.
The commentary in the Times also stated that Yale and other schools should spend a much higher percentage of their endowments. Yale’s endowment spending prudently balances the competing objectives of providing substantial income to the operating budget now and protecting the value of the endowment over time, so that future generations of students can receive the same extraordinary support as today’s.