It’s not unusual for the topic of money to be the elephant in the room at Boston College, what with such high costs of tuition and visible differences in students’ socioeconomic classes. However, lately it’s the university’s bank account that’s got people talking, as the recent annual report for 2014 revealed that BC’s endowment has recently surpassed $2 billion, up 10% from last year’s $1.98 billion.
BC's endowment may still seem small compared the $30 billion Harvard has in its coffers, but given the exponential growth of the sum (it has grown over 100 fold since 1980), people are starting to take notice of the university’s financial health. BC is rising to prominence in terms of endowments, and perhaps that’s a positive reflection of alumni commitment to the university and its values.
It’s no secret that many equate the size of each university’s endowment with the level of academic prestige, but what goes on with those numbers is a lot less clear to many people. While a lot of the money is spent on funding day-to-day operations and providing scholarships at such universities as BC, the paradoxical truth is that schools at the top have the majority of the wealth, and less than 1% of the students. And anyone who has ever strolled through Cambridge knows that Harvard’s facility upkeep is a little questionable.
The new Stokes Hall is certainly a shining example of BC’s commitment to using the wealth to better the university, but many people still point to high tuition prices and wonder if BC could be doing more. The truth is, however, the majority of these alumni contributions are given conditionally, with a certain purpose specified. And in fact, BC’s financial statements indicate that $157 million is spent annually in scholarships, fellowships, and prizes. Of course, a lot of that does go toward scholarships for athletes, but BC has received national attention for being a selective school that gives non-wealthy students a break in prices.
Realistically, a lot of this money is tied up in investments, so it’s not as if BC is free to spend it at its leisure. And while the university’s fiscal health may seem insignificant, it’s important to recognize that these contributions by alumni do make a difference. 70% of current BC students receive some form of financial aid, so the endowment is a way of making this world-class education more accessible. So while many students readily complain about what BC chooses to do with the endowment, it’s important to be grateful for the people who are committed to giving to this community.