College Endowments

Universities reluctant to tap endowments in tough times

As colleges and universities raise tuition and ask for more state money, some critics ask why they don't tap their multi- million-dollar endowments. Higher education officials say it's not that easy -- and not necessarily wise.

Endowments nationwide have been growing. Ohio State University's is at one-and-a-half billion dollars, and the University of Cincinnati is expected to top the one billion mark this year. Universities say the idea is to build up the investment and spend the interest without cutting into the nest egg.

Still, a few years ago a higher education analyst examined endowment growth nationwide and found that universities were spending only three percent of their endowments. The recommended amount is five percent.