Why Giving Matters

Why Giving Matters

Princeton’s leadership in higher education depends on the generosity of alumni, parents, and friends, and the diligent stewardship of that generosity over time.  See why giving matters to...


The Impact of Giving on Princeton’s Budget

Donations to the University include gifts to the endowment, capital gifts, and gifts for current use, such as contributions to Annual Giving. The difference that gifts from alumni, parents, and friends make in the University’s overall financial picture provide what is often described as Princeton’s “margin of excellence;” in 2012–13 this amounted to more than $127 million or 8 percent of total income. Together, gifts and income generated by the endowment provided more than half the annual operating budget of $1.5 billion.

Income and Expenditures 2012-13

Income (in thousands)
Endowment payout and other investment income   47%   $704,837
Student fees   20%   $299,432
Sponsored research   18%   $275,867
Gifts   8%   $127,572
Auxiliary activities and service income   7%   $110,297
Expenditures (in thousands)
Academic departments   38%   $570,633
Physical facilities   23%   $350,212
Student aid   15%   $230,153
Administrative services   11%   $171,955
Library and computing services   6%   $91,576
Princeton Plasma Physics Lab   5%   $80,000
Athletics   2%   $23,476

The Impact of Giving on Financial Aid

Class of 2016The University is committed to making a Princeton education available to all admitted students, regardless of their financial circumstances. Its generous aid program provides 100 percent of the determined financial need in the form of grants, so that students will not be burdened with loans to pay back after graduation. Funding for undergraduate financial aid comes from endowed scholarship funds, Annual Giving, and other forms of current-use support. The availability of unrestricted funds makes it possible for Princeton to respond flexibly and promptly to increased financial need.

Estimated Undergraduate Financial Aid Budget: 2013-14

Number of undergraduates receiving financial aid   60%   3,120
Median family income of students receiving aid       $119,750
Average parental contribution for students receiving aid       $15,600
Total scholarship budget       $121,400,000
  Provided by the University   93.7%    
    Endowed scholarships       99,850,000
    General funds       13,420,000
    Yearly gifts to the scholarship program       400,000
  Provided by government   3.2%   3,930,000
  Provided by outside organizations   3.1%   3,800,000
Earnings of financial aid students      


The promising scholars pursuing advanced degrees in the Graduate School also require financial support to allow them to focus on their studies and reach their full potential. They receive fellowships, which allow them to concentrate on their studies, assist faculty members with their research, mentor undergraduates, and make vital contributions to the intellectual life of Princeton.

The Impact of Giving on Princeton’s Faculty

Professor Curtis Callan with graduate student Princeton students benefit from an exceptionally low student-faculty ratio of 6 to 1. This makes it possible for them to learn from faculty members who are not only world-class scholars and researchers, but also dedicated teachers committed to working closely with students at all levels, from freshmen seminars to senior theses to graduate work. The ability to provide support for these exceptionally talented people and to recognize the most accomplished among them with endowed professorships is crucial to recruiting and sustaining the very best faculty for the University.

The Impact of Giving on Princeton’s Academic Programs

“Excellence cannot be bought, but it must be paid for,” pointed out Nobel laureate Val Fitch, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics Emeritus. Sustaining the high quality of Princeton’s academic programs not only includes attracting and retaining the best students and faculty, it also requires providing comprehensive support for teaching and learning. This ranges from maintaining world-class libraries to keeping up with the latest technology needed for cutting-edge research on the frontiers of knowledge.

The Impact of Giving on Student Life

The Princeton experience includes residential facilities that promote vibrant communities, health services that keep students in top form, and extracurricular opportunities that encourage personal development, from athletics to cultural events to volunteer programs. In order to offer the best possible education, the University is constantly renewing and reinvigorating the elements that make it an inspiring place to live and learn.

The Impact of Giving on Princeton’s Campus

Gifts from alumni, family, and friends contribute in incalculable ways to Princeton's beautiful campus. Capital gifts fund academic and residential buildings that combine architectural distinction with state-of-the-art settings for teaching, learning, and living, while older facilities require continuing maintenance and renovation to meet changing needs. Unrestricted gifts permit allocation of funds for both upkeep and enhancement of all elements of the physical plant, from grounds and gardens to labs and libraries.

The Impact of Giving on Princeton’s Endowment

Princeton’s endowment has been built up over more than 250 years with gifts from alumni, parents, and friends. The annual spendable income from the endowment, prudently targeted to be between 4 and 5 percent of its principal value, is used to support core programs and essential new initiatives. Despite recent fiscal setbacks that affected institutions across the nation, Princeton’s endowment has a history of exceptionally successful management, with steady long-term growth, which means that donors who give to the endowment can be assured that their gifts will continue to grow and benefit the University in perpetuity. Without the ongoing support of loyal friends, the endowment would not be able to continue providing what Princeton needs to be its very best.