October 30, 2008 / 12:37 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX: How is U.S. higher education faring?

(Reuters) - Higher education in the United States has been viewed as recession-proof, but the global financial crisis is already having an impact.

Here are some facts about enrollment, endowments, and finances at the nation’s colleges universities.

- An October 16 report from Moody’s Investors Service estimated endowment losses at 5 percent to 7 percent in the year to June 30. Since then, spending and endowment losses sliced another 30 percent off schools’ cash and investments.

- For the nation’s public universities, which educate three out of four students, state subsidies covered a little over half of their budget costs last year, down from two-thirds in 1998. Tuition has grown to cover more than a third of their budgets, up from one-fifth 15 years ago.

- Endowments supported around 10 percent of the average school’s budget. At Harvard (endowment $34.6 billion as of June 30), Yale ($22.5 billion), and other wealthy institutions, earnings from the endowment covered roughly 40 percent of costs. The average expenditure out of wealthy schools’ endowments was 4.4 percent of assets.

- A total of 76 colleges and universities had more than $1 billion in their endowments as of June 30. The wealthiest 400 schools had more than $400 billion in assets in 2007. But fewer than 400 schools had at least $100 million in their endowments, with most having less than $10 million.

- Tuition, room and board at private four-year schools in 2007-2008 averaged $31,019, up 7 percent from two years ago after adjusting for inflation. The cost of public schools was $16,758 for in-state students, $24,955 for out-of-state students, up 5 percent in the last two years after inflation.

- Federal loan aid for higher education increased 60 percent between 1996 and 2005. Students borrowed $77 billion last year to pay expenses to attend colleges and universities. Two out of three students received grants — discounts on tuition — averaging $9,300 at private schools and $3,600 at public schools.

- College seniors who graduated in 2007 carried 6 percent more student loan debt that the class of 2006. Starting salaries for graduates rose 3 percent in the same period.

- An online survey found 16 percent of prospective students put college searches on hold because they couldn’t afford it.

Sources: State Higher Education Executive Officers; The Project on Student Debt; Center for College Affordability and Productivity; Commonfund; Moody’s Investors Service; MeritAid.com

Reporting by Andrew Stern in Chicago; editing by Michael Conlon and Eddie Evans

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