While parents and students struggle to find ways to pay for college, some colleges and universities are sitting on mountains of cash.
At the same time these institutions either don't pay taxes, or pay a very low tax rate.
Why? Why are they not required to pay their fair share? Warren Buffet makes a remark that millionaires should pay more taxes (even as he continues not to) and the press covers the story for months. Meanwhile, 75 colleges and universities have over $1 billion in their endowments, and they get a free pass on taxes, no questions asked.
Why are they allowed to stockpile money with no taxes due and no consequences? How are they allowed to push up costs to $250,000 per student for a 4-year degree - and still get preferential tax treatment?
No one seems to question it. No one takes them to task. The Dept. of Education is cool with it. The IRS leaves them alone. No lawmakers come snooping.
Sure, a portion of the endowment money goes to fund campus operations and some scholarships. But lots of it doesn't get used at all. It's just invested to make more money.
Consider this: Harvard has an endowment of $31.7 billion. They could give away a $50,000 scholarship every minute their classes are in session and still not exhaust the increase in their endowment fund in 2011 alone. Think about that.
Yale has a $19 billion endowment. Princeton and Texas over $17 billion. Stanford's tops $16 billion. If these schools pay little-to-no taxes, then aren't we the ones subsidizing their vast hoards? Is anyone else bothered by this except me?
The University of Michigan is sitting on almost $8 billion and still reneged on all its "Promise" scholarships a couple years ago (evidently they didn't see the irony in the name). Was there a big hue and cry over their malfeasance? I'm sure there was among the Michigan students and parents who got swindled. But did you see the story on the national news or in the weekly news magazines? Was an investigative Senate committee convened?
There are thousands of families with amazing kids who are going to be saddled with crippling student loans for decades. At the same time, elite schools continue to pocket billions in endowment gains while enjoying tax advantages not available to individuals or businesses.
While I can't convince Congress to rewrite the tax code for universities, we can help you get some of the college's tax-free money so your family doesn't have to pay full price for college.
Our next free college planning workshops are as follows:
July 18 – Bridgewater
July 25 – Berkeley Heights
August 15 – Edison
August 22 – Montclair
Reserve your seat online at www.myacfa.com or by calling 973-467-0101. There is no cost to attend. Parents from any town are welcome. Workshops begin at 7:30 p.m. and check-in is at 7:15.