From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes news that college endowments are at their worst level in almost 40 years. According to the article:

The value of college endowments declined by an average of 23 percent from 2008 to 2009, socked by the one-two punch of record investment losses and a precipitous drop in giving, a survey released on Thursday shows.

The average investment return for the 2009 fiscal year was minus-18.7 percent, the worst result in the history of the endowment study, which the National Association of College and University Business Officers has sponsored since 1971.

The state of college endowments has been bad for awhile but this is the first report to indicate that endowments are the worst they’ve ever been. Or, at any rate, the worst they have been as long as people have kept track of them nationally.

The Chronicle article did note that “while the 2009 fiscal year, which ended June 30 for most institutions, was the most difficult for investors since the Great Depression, volatility works both ways. Since March, most investments have been on the rebound.” Since the economy seemed to have hit rock bottom already, presumably endowments can only go up from here.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer