Many institutions of higher education in the United States maintain financial endowments, sums of money that are invested in stocks, yielding returns that fund a portion of an institution's operational expenses and help ensure that it survives in perpetuity.
U.S. colleges and universities maintain some of the largest endowments in the world, and make up the strong majority of educational institutions with endowments greater than $1 billion.
In 2005, the endowment table below totaled $219.37 billion. By 2015, the table totaled $394.96 billion, an increase of 80%. As of 2018[update], the total further increased to $479.23 billion.
Strong returns in fiscal 2020-21 led the largest university endowments to soar. The four largest endowments — Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton — increased in value from $127.24 billion to $171 billion in a single year.