Annual Report of the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute on endowment performance and management practices in higher education.
Data gathered from 812 U.S. colleges and universities for the 2015 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® (NCSE) show that participating institutions' endowments returned an average of 2.4 percent (net of fees) for the 2015 fiscal year (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015) compared with 15.5 percent for the 2014 fiscal year. This year's return was the lowest since the -0.3 percent reported for FY2012 and contributed to a decline in long-term 10-year average annual returns, to 6.3 percent from last year's 7.1 percent. This year's long-term return figure is well below the median 7.5 percent that most endowments report they need to earn in order to maintain their purchasing power after spending, inflation and investment management costs.
Despite the decline in investment gains, 78 percent of Study respondents reported spending more in dollars from their endowments this year. Among institutions increasing their dollar spending, the median increase was a substantial 8.8 percent, well above inflation.