Campus & Community

Harvard University endowment earns 11.3% return for fiscal year

3 min read

Harvard University announced today that its endowment posted an 11.3 percent return and was valued at $32.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.  The return was 223 basis points in excess of the 9.1 percent return on the benchmark Policy Portfolio.

“As I mark my fifth anniversary as the chief executive of the Harvard Management Company, I am very proud of the internal and external managers we have in place and the results they have achieved,” said Jane Mendillo, president and CEO of HMC. “Thanks to this talented team, we have made a strong recovery since the global economic downturn of 2008-2009, and our outperformance this year alone contributed about $600 million of additional value to the portfolio over and above the markets.”

Harvard’s endowment helps to fund operations critical to the University’s educational and research mission, including academic programs, science and medical research, as well as student financial aid programs that allow the University to admit qualified students regardless of their ability to pay. In fiscal 2013, distributions from the endowment contributed more than a third of the University’s operating budget.

“The HMC team produced strong results at a time when the revenue streams that have traditionally supported institutions of higher education have been under increasing pressure,” said James Rothenberg, University treasurer.  “HMC also beat its benchmark Policy Portfolio for the fourth consecutive year, and its performance relative to the market was once again positive in most asset categories.”

The endowment has earned an average annual return of 12.0 percent over the past 20 years, outperforming the Policy Portfolio benchmark by substantial margins.

The endowment is key to supporting Harvard’s generous financial aid programs.

More than 60 percent of Harvard undergraduates are receiving need-based scholarship aid this year, totaling more than $182 million. The average undergraduate student on financial aid pays only $12,000; in addition, an average of one in five students pays no tuition, based on economic need. Throughout Harvard, scholarships and awards to students from University funds have almost tripled over the past decade. The College’s industry-leading financial aid policies are designed to make Harvard more affordable for families across the economic spectrum, a commitment that has remained a high priority despite times of economic uncertainty.

The endowment is not a single fund, but comprises more than 12,000 individual funds, many of them restricted to specific uses such as support of a research center or the creation of a professorship in a specific subject. The funds are invested by HMC, which oversees the University’s endowment, pension, trust funds, and other investments at a significant savings relative to outside management.

The endowment’s total value is affected by several factors each year, including investment returns, new contributions, and the annual payout for University programs.

Contact:, 617.495.1585