Endowment Growth Projected to Slow

Standard & Poor's predicts 2005 returns will be positive but lower than in 2004.
May 10, 2005

College endowments are likely to grow again in 2005 but are unlikely to match the booming results that many institutions had in 2004, Standard & Poor's said in a report Monday.

Analysts for Standard & Poor's Public Finance division said it was too early to know conclusively how endowments would fare, since most institutions' 2005 fiscal years don't end until June or later.

But based on reports the ratings firm's has gotten from its clients through the second quarter of the year, says Jackie Endriss, the chief author of Monday's report, "what we've been seeing is that returns haven't been quite what they were in 2004."

Colleges had an average increase of 15 percent last fiscal year in the value of their endowment funds, according to an annual survey released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers in January.

The report predicts "more moderate increases in endowment levels in 2005," given the unlikelihood that the domestic equities markets, in which many college endowments are still heavily invested, will match last year's strong performance.

The 2005 endowment results will be strengthened by the sizable fund raising campaigns that many colleges and universities are engaged in, Standard & Poor's said. The agency reported that 25 universities are now raising at least $1 billion, and seven are in the midst of drives at least $2 billion, "a campaign objective that was inconceivable 10 years ago."


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