Government Gives Billions in Grants Each Year to Ivy League Universities
A new report from government watchdog organization OpenTheBooks.com tallies up federal money issued to 10 elite private universities: the eight that make up the Ivy League—Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth College—plus Northwestern and Stanford.
Between 2018–2022, these 10 universities received $33.1 billion in federal contracts and grants. The largest recipient was Stanford, with just over $7 billion; Dartmouth was the only institution not to receive at least $1 billion, capping out at just over $755 million.
Of the $33 billion total, the report notes, only about $4.18 billion came in the form of contracts, in which work is done on behalf of a federal agency that then owns the results; the remainder, more than $28.9 billion, was distributed as grants, whereby an institution receives government money to fund its own projects.
In some cases, universities receive more money per year from the government than from their students: In the 2021–22 school year, Princeton University took in nearly $145 million in net tuition and fees (tuition paid minus scholarships disbursed), but it received over $362 million in government grants and contracts—more than twice the amount it received in tuition. In the 2022–2023 school year, Yale took in more than $458 million in net tuition and room and board costs, but it brought in a whopping $1.038 billion in government grant and contract income.
As private institutions, the universities in question are nominally meant to be funded by student tuition and donations; most also have generous endowments, assets invested to support the institution over a long period of time. And federal grant programs exist that are intended to fund research into projects that could have larger societal benefits: For example, the first COVID-19 vaccines were developed in part at Emory Univers
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