Sybil Low by Sybil Low

Insider reports that Harvard University, the institution with America’s largest funding – over $50 billion – is presently under the scrutiny of the Education Department concerning its legacy admissions protocol. This event follows a significant Supreme Court verdict, which has outlawed the consideration of race in college admissions. This has cast some uncertainty and doubts regarding Ivy League colleges’ admission and funding mechanisms.

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Key Takeaways:

  • A fair share of Harvard’s income is derived from donations by alumni, parents, and friends.
  • The Supreme Court’s prohibition on affirmative action in college admissions has put Ivy League schools’ legacy admissions protocol under close examination, with Harvard at the forefront.
  • Harvard’s admissions protocol was taken under investigation in response to accusations that the institution favored less qualified, white, and affluent applicants.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling, outlawing affirmative action in college admissions, has initiated a rigorous examination of the legacy admissions protocol at Ivy League schools, including Harvard. Allegations from three groups – the Chica Project, the African Community Economic Development of New England, and the Greater Boston Latino Network – accuse Harvard of prioritizing less qualified, white, and wealthy applicants over applicants of color.

In response to these allegations, a Harvard representative stated,

“Harvard remains dedicated to opening doors to opportunity and to redoubling our efforts to encourage students from many different backgrounds to apply for admission.”

While other universities, including Johns Hopkins and Amherst, have eliminated the preference for legacy students, Harvard continues to maintain it, expressing concerns that abolishing the preference could reduce alumni donations.

Philanthropy and Harvard’s Income

Philanthropy, which includes donations from alumni, parents, and friends, accounts for an impressive 45% of Harvard’s total income. The potential consequences of the Education Department’s investigation of this major source of funding could be far-reaching.

For the fiscal year 2022, Harvard received $505 million in current-use gifts from alumni, foundations, and others, accounting for roughly 9% of the university’s operating revenues. The school itself states:

“Support for the University comes from donations of all sizes; more than 75% of gifts in fiscal year 2022 averaged $155 per donor.”

Where Are The Funds?

Another point of interest lies in how Harvard uses this funding. The institution appoints 70% of the financing towards areas specified by donors, such as scholarships, research, and construction. The remaining 30% of funds are allocated more flexibly, catering to structural operating expenses and strategic initiatives.

As stated on its website,

“Even with endowment support, Harvard must fund nearly two-thirds of its operating expenses ($5.4 billion in fiscal year 2022) from other sources, such as federal and non-federal research grants, student tuition and fees, and gifts from alumni, parents, and friends.”

Considering the significant reliance on donations, the admission of alumni’s children could be viewed as a tactic to maintain steady funding. The current investigation into the legacy admissions protocol may bear significant implications, with the potential to not only reshape Harvard’s admission process but also its funding mechanism.


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