Yale University’s endowment earned $2.6 billion in investment gains in fiscal 2015. A proposed bill in the Ivy League school’s home state of Connecticut is eyeing a share of the bounty as a source of revenue.
Schools with funds of $10 billion or more — affecting Yale only — could face a tax on endowment income, according to legislation introduced this month. Yale’s record $25.6 billion fund is the second largest in U.S. higher education, behind Harvard University’s $37.6 billion.
The richest college endowments, many at their highest values ever, also have drawn scrutiny from federal lawmakers. Last month, the U.S. Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees sent a joint inquiry to the richest 56 private schools about endowments, seeking to understand the impact of their tax-exempt status on the price tag of higher education, among other issues.
Connecticut is facing a $266 million shortfall for fiscal 2016, according to the state Office of Fiscal Analysis, and taxing the endowment’s earnings could help close the gap.
Supporters of the bill want Yale to spend more money to expand access to higher education and “create innovative, high-paying jobs,” Martin Looney, a Democrat who presides over the Senate and whose district includes Yale’s campus in New Haven, said in written testimony submitted for a committee hearing on March 22.
“It is our hope that these rich schools can use their wealth to create job opportunities, rather than simply to get richer,” Looney said, adding that Yale “possesses the resources to have an even greater impact on our economy.”