In the course of choosing which college to attend, it is significant that students look closely at the diverse selection of both public and private colleges throughout the country. Various factors may be considered, whether it be a college's location, popularity, prominence or the kind of courses it offers. Financial considerations also play a big part in selecting a college. Attending either a public or private college will entail costs, usually higher than what most students can afford firsthand.
In this respect, looking into how colleges are operated from a financial standpoint and knowing which institutions are provided the most funding may help identify which college may be able to grant the most financial assistance or offer partial to full scholarships to those that will qualify. Larger amounts of funding usually translate to better facilities, building maintenance, research grants, personnel, and faculty – all intended as investments in achieving better quality education.
Funding for colleges come in the form of endowments such as financial grants, donations, tuition fees, and government subsidies. Both public and private colleges receive endowments. The following is a list of the top ten private colleges according to endowment market value and assets as reported by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (2009):
1. Harvard University – established in 1636 and situated in Cambridge, Harvard has the highest recorded amount of endowments, set at USD 36.5 billion. Its schools in business, law, medicine, education, and engineering are among the most highly regarded in the academe. To date, Harvard's student body has grown to 20,000 while over 2,000 comprise its faculty.
2. Yale University – with endowments of USD 22.9 billion, Yale is located in New Haven, Connecticut and is home to professional schools in public health, environmental studies, management, music, architecture, drama, management, law, and medicine. Its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers courses in arts, philosophy, engineering, and science.
3. Stanford University – founded in 1891, the student body at Stanford in California has grown to over 14,000 in 2008. Endowments of up to USD 17.2 billion provide for its graduate school of business, schools of education, engineering, earth sciences, humanities, law, and medicine. Continuing studies also form an integral part of Stanford's set of academic programs and caters to about 9,000 students to date.
4. Princeton University – claiming university status in 1896, Princeton dubs itself as a research university, with endowments pegged at USD 16.3 billion. Located in Princeton, New Jersey, the Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Science offers both undergraduate and graduate studies in the fields of chemical, mechanical and aerospace, civil and environmental, and financial engineering. Interdisciplinary programs also offer degrees in many fields including anthropology, comparative literature, philosophy, languages, and finance.
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – perhaps the most prominent technical college in the US, the MIT in Cambridge is associated with earning degrees in science and engineering, although the list of programs also include pursuits in anthropology, literature, media arts, history, linguistics , as well as music and theater arts. MIT endowments have reached USD 10 billion.
6. Northwestern University – with its main campus in Evanston in Illinois, Northwestern was founded in 1851 and has a recorded USD 7.2 billion worth of endowments. To date, the academic programs offered by this institution are lead by studies in communication, arts and sciences, music, and engineering. This university is also comprised of a Law School, the Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Kellogg School of Management.
7. Columbia University – with estimated endowments reaching USD 7.1 billion, Columbia in New York City features programs in liberal arts, public health, engineering, and applied sciences. Also offered are graduate studies in business, arts and sciences, journalism, as well as a school of law, public affairs, and nursing.
8. University of Chicago – founded in 1890 and situated in Hyde Park in Chicago, this university's endowments is estimated at USD 6.6 billion. Available academic programs include studies in biological sciences, humanities, public policy, social services and administration, among others. The University of Chicago is also home to the Booth School of Business as well as the Pritzker School of Medicine.
9. University of Pennsylvania – comprised of about 10, 000 undergraduate students and with endowments amounting to USD 6.2 billion, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia offers degrees in arts and sciences, engineering, medicine, nursing, and is home to the Wharton School of Business. Penn also offers interdisciplinary programs spanning medicine and engineering, management and international studies, as well as technology management.
10. University of Notre Dame – with endowments estimated also at USD 6.2 billion, this Catholic university was founded in 1842 and is located in Notre Dame, Indiana. Four colleges are found within the institution, offering degrees in arts and letters, business via the Mendoza College of Business, science, and engineering. Notre Dame also features a Law School, a School of Architecture, and a Graduate School offering courses in humanities, engineering, and social sciences.
While the value of private college funding may generally be viewed as exorbitant, those at the top of the list are often the same colleges that are able to waive tuition fees for admitted students whose family incomes are below a certain level. Such opportunities serve to be valuable to students that have worked well enough to earn their degrees in any college that they choose. Note, however, that the private colleges that are most funded are not necessarily listed under the best private colleges nor the best in value throughout the US. In selecting which private college is most suitable, students must also take into account other factors concerning coursework value, existing facilities, curricular and extra-curricular resources, and the like. It is also important to know the values of a college's total endowment rate as compared to a college's endowment rate per student, derived from dividing total endowments over the number of students enrolled. A college with a large endowment but with too many students may not always be able to provide the required financial support.
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