UA endowment surpasses $1B for first time as tuition revenue falls

Jack Maurer | @JackMaurer10, Chief Copy Editor

In mid-February the University published its annual financial report, revealing that its endowment had jumped by nearly one-third in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2021, to a historic high of $1.09 billion.

The 81-page report attributed the unprecedented endowment growth to “an increase in market value and additions to the endowment of $34.3 million.”

The University’s endowment shrank in the 2019-20 fiscal year, which included the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, “due to a decrease in market value as well as a lower appraisal value of the University’s mineral rights,” the report said.

In the past decade, the University’s endowment has grown by more than three-quarters.

Before subtracting scholarship allowances, the University collected $754 million in revenue from tuition and fees during the 2020-21 fiscal year. That’s down from $801 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“The University is always looking at costs and revenues,” UA spokesperson Shane Dorrill said in an email. “However, we are optimistic about the future due to the record freshman class and an expected increase in applications for Fall 2022.”

The University enrolled a record 7,593 freshmen last fall following a dip in enrollment in fall 2020.

Tuition for in-state undergraduates has remained unchanged at $10,780 since the 2017-18 academic year. Tuition for out-of-state undergraduates, who now account for about 59% of the University’s undergraduates, has been $30,250 since the 2019-20 academic year, when it was raised from $29,230.

Over the past 10 years, tuition at the University has outpaced inflation, rising 25% for in-state undergraduates and 38% for those from out of state. Meanwhile, tuition at the law school has risen 31% and 39% for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.

Still, undergraduate tuition at the University remains on par with other public universities in the SEC, which charge an average of about $11,400 in tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates and $30,800 for out-of-state students. The University of Alabama’s financial aid website estimates fees at $800 a year.

Among public colleges in the SEC, in-state tuition and fees range from $6,380 at the University of Florida to $14,263 at the University of South Carolina. Out-of-state tuition and fees range from $24,900 at Mississippi State to $40,896 at Texas A&M. Vanderbilt, the only private college in the conference, charges about $57,000 in tuition and fees for both in-state and out-of-state undergraduates.

Dorrill said the University of Alabama System will make a decision about tuition for the coming academic year in June.

For the 2020-21 fiscal year, scholarship expenses totaled $347 million, up from $319 million in the preceding fiscal year. Scholarship expenses for the 2020-21 fiscal year amount to 46% of gross revenue from tuition and fees, about average compared with other public universities in the SEC.

According to the University’s Common Data Set responses, about 38% of scholarship and grant money is awarded on the basis of financial need; the remaining 62% includes scholarships awarded for academic achievement.

Questions? Email the news desk at [email protected].