Princeton’s endowment returns continue to support University mission and impact

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021, Princeton’s endowment earned a 46.9% investment gain and its value stood at $37.7 billion. The average annual return on the endowment for the past 10 years is 12.7% and 11.2% for the past 20 years.

Endowment distributions and other investment income cover 66% of the University’s operating revenue annually. This percentage has steadily increased as the endowment has grown. In 1997, only 33% of the University’s operating revenue was funded by endowment earnings.

In fiscal year 2021, distributions from the endowment totaled $1.5 billion. Over the last decade, the endowment has contributed $10.8 billion toward the University’s operations, equivalent to almost two-thirds of the endowment’s value at the start of that timespan.

The fiscal year 2021 results were certified by the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO) board of directors earlier this month.

“This year’s exceptional returns reflect not only strong underlying markets but also the superb work of PRINCO’s outstanding investment team over many years,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber.

“The University expects to apply these resources through established planning processes and guided by our strategic framework and goals, including our commitments to increasing access and affordability, advancing Princeton’s academic priorities, serving a wider array of students, and achieving net-zero carbon emission targets for campus operations,” he said.

The University recently published two stories that explore the endowment’s origins, long-term focus and impact over time.

The first story explains how the endowment works and why the University must balance the funding priorities of today while maintaining a financial foundation for future generations. The second story looks at the history of the endowment’s impact in enhancing Princeton’s strength as a leading teaching and research university, rescuing it from red ink in the 1970s and fortifying the University’s ability to develop talent, move boldly into new fields and make big bets on transformative ideas that impact the world.

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