Feedback: Local College Endowment Investments Rebound

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Endowment investments at north country universities appear to be on a rebound from the decline they experienced from the crippling financial storm in 2009 when the Stock Market crashed.

"2013 was very positive. The university's endowment returned about 9.8 percent," said Clarkson University Chief Financial Officer Jim Fish.

He declined to give a dollar amount for the university's endowment fund, he says growth is critical.

"The cost of education is not going down. In fact, it's growing at a rate greater than common inflation and so we rely on that," said Fish.
 
The endowment funds represent money or other financial assets that are donated to higher education schools, invested and then used to make up a percentage of a university's annual operating budget.

A recent national survey of American and Canadian college endowments found funds grew by an average of more than 11 percent last year.

At St. Lawrence University, endowment funds totalled $268 million as of December 31, up more than 12 percent from 2012.

Associate Vice President for Finance Carol Gable says a healthy endowment with growth is crucial.

"It has taken a long time to recover and just this past December actually we're back to where we were in 2007," she said.

The local college endowment funds have also been able to rebound from the turbulence of the recession without any significant problems. 

"What we spend on campus here to keep the classrooms operating and the dorms operating doesn't all come from tuition; 11 percent comes from endowment income that we're spending," said Gable.

As for what the future holds, no one wants to venture a guess in a climate where predictions of a shrinking student enrollment and flat revenues many colleges and universities are generating per student prevail. 

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Thursday, April 17, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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