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The Financial Resilience of Independent Colleges and Universities

January 25, 2018

A Report by the Council of Independent Colleges

From the forward:

As a long-time partner with the Council of Independent Colleges—including supporting its Securing America’s Future initiative—the TIAA Institute is pleased to help make this report available. The TIAA Institute supported this work because it is committed to enhancing the financial well-being of individuals and institutions in the higher education and broader nonprofit sectors. Core to its mission is building and sharing knowledge that helps leaders make better decisions and informs their strategic plans, which the TIAA Institute believes is the most powerful way to influence the financial fate of academic and nonprofit institutions.

Access to meaningful data is essential to the success of academic institutions. From securing financing to planning investments to attracting high-quality faculty members, virtually all aspects of an institution’s operations can be enhanced through data analytics, particularly benchmark comparisons that put results in context.

To that end, the authors of this report analyzed 14 years of financial data from hundreds of private nondoctoral institutions. Their research, supported by the TIAA Institute, examines the financial viability of independent colleges and universities, provides a comprehensive look at their financial health, and finds that most independent colleges and universities are in generally good health.

We are pleased to share these conclusions about the strength of the nonprofit college sector with readers of this report. To learn more about the TIAA Institute’s research and initiatives for higher education leaders, please visit

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