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Congress has sent a letter to the universities with $1B in endowments; the questions surround the average 4.4 percent payment matched up against the 15.5 percent return on investment.

"On February 8, 2016 a joint letter from the Senate Committee on Finance, the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Oversight Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means sent a letter to 56 academic institutions. All of these institutions have endowments of more than $1 billion. The letter noted that a recent study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers indicated that average investment returns during 2014 were 15.5 percent and the average payout from these endowments was 4.4 percent. 'Despite these large and growing endowments, many colleges and universities have raised tuition far in excess of inflation.'

"The letter further indicated that the congress is conducting an inquiry into the activities of colleges and universities related to the numerous tax preferences they enjoy under the Internal Revenue Code—i.e., their tax-exempt status. These committees have jurisdiction over federal revenue measures, and as a result, they have authority to conduct oversight of activities within their jurisdiction. In other words, they are trying to figure out if changes should be made to the tax code to fix a problem, if indeed a problem exists."--Frank Monti, Inside Philanthropy

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