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With endowments recovering, many colleges fund amenities, not holding down tuition

USA Today says endowments at colleges and universities have recovered from recession losses, but says “parents and students are unlikely to see much of a break in tuition.”

The story says “many universities, and schools are spending the money on everything from luxury dorm rooms to the lacrosse coach at Harvard.”

The University of Minnesota and affiliated foundations rank 29th, with $2.5 billion, on the paper’s list of top college and university endowments.

“Colleges and universities are sitting on more wealth than has been amassed by any other group of non-profit institutions in the history of our nation — including private foundations,” says Lynne Munson, an adjunct research fellow at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. “Tuition accountability is long overdue.”

The story says:

From 2006 to 2011, tuition and fees rose 30% above inflation at public, four-year schools, according to the College Board. Rising costs have led to more student debt. In 2005, the average student loan debt was $15,651, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study. By 2012, that had increased to $24,301.

Slowing tuition costs wouldn’t take much. Using 1% of a $1-billion-plus endowment could reduce tuition significantly, even at some public schools.

But John Walda, president of the National Association of College and University Business Officials, said: “Based on our data, it’s clear schools are using endowments wisely and spending as much as is prudent.”

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