Finances

Operating Budget

2020–21: $2,311,769,000
2021–22 (projected): $2,488,007,000

The total operating budget for 2020–21 included funding for sponsored research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which totals $130 million. PPPL operates on a federal fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2021.

Income and Expenditures, 2020–21

All percentages rounded

Income % Amount (in thousands)
Endowment payout and other investment income 62% $1,440,646
Student fees 16% $365,634
Sponsored research 16% $372,334
Gifts and other income, net of transfers 4% $96,659
Auxiliary activities and service income 2% $36,496
Expenditures % Amount (in thousands)
Academic departments 34% $780,904
Physical facilities/strategic initiatives 26% $612,511
Student aid 14% $314,180
Administrative services 12% $277,113
Library/Computing/Museum 7% $163,073
PPPL 6% $130,000
Athletics 1% $33,988

The Endowment

The endowment is the financial foundation that underpins the University’s teaching and research mission and supports Princeton’s exceptional financial aid program, which makes it possible for students from all backgrounds to live and learn at the University without incurring debt.

Princeton’s endowment is the fifth-largest in the country, with a value of $32.5 billion as of March 31, 2021. The earnings from the endowment cover more than half of the University’s annual operating budget and help fund the University’s highest priority strategic initiatives, while preserving real value for future generations. To pursue this goal, the endowment maintains an equity-biased portfolio and seeks to partner with best-in-class investment management firms across diverse asset categories.

The annualized return on Princeton’s endowment—defined as “dividends and interest on portfolio holdings, plus or minus capital appreciation or depreciation”—is estimated to be just under 13% over the 25-year period ending June 30, 2021.

Giving to Princeton

Princetonians generously support all aspects of the University’s teaching and research mission in many ways, through gifts that range from contributions to athletic friends groups to endowing a scholarship fund to funding a new building.

The gifts made through Annual Giving are flexible and immediately available for the University’s highest needs. These unrestricted funds provide nearly 10% of the University’s overall budget for educational expenses.

Since 1940, Annual Giving has raised more than $1.59 billion for Princeton, and 87.5% of alumni have participated at some time. The 2020–21 Annual Giving campaign raised $68.6 million—the third-highest total in Annual Giving history. Annual Giving owes its success to an exceptional volunteer effort that galvanizes Princetonians from around the world.

Capital and endowed gifts may be designated by the donor to support specific programs, initiatives or building projects. Recent gifts from alumni and friends have supported the University’s strategic priorities, ranging from the new residential colleges to professorships, scholarships and other endowed funds for key academic and co-curricular initiatives.

The University’s generous financial aid program, which makes the extraordinary Princeton education affordable by meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every admitted undergraduate, is supported in many ways, including through Annual Giving and endowed scholarships. More than 80% of Princeton’s students graduate debt free; those who do incur debt average less than $9,000 for all four years, largely thanks to the generosity of the University’s alumni and friends.