Hillsdale College is approaching $1 billion in net worth. The college has more than $1 billion in assets and $100 million in liabilities, according to Patrick Flannery, vice president of finance and the treasurer of Hillsdale College.
“We have a lot of assets compared to liabilities. It continues to prove that we’re very strong financially,” Flannery said.
Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn said Hillsdale’s growing net worth is a good thing for the college: “It’s a sign of strength, which the college needs because the times are turbulent, and we need a cushion,” he said, noting that Hillsdale’s endowment of roughly $548 million is much smaller than endowments of Hillsdale’s competitors. Arnn said some competitors have endowments worth more than $1 billion.
Arnn does not anticipate surpassing $1 billion in net worth by a certain date.
“It depends on a lot of things: people giving money, investments doing well. The future is obscure,” he said.
Expansion of the college’s size does not necessarily increase the net value of the college. Construction of the new dorm and renovation of Galloway men’s residence shifts funds from cash into real estate. An educational center the college is considering establishing in California could only be built if the college fundraises specifically for it. Such money, as with Christ Chapel, must be given expressly for the center’s construction; the college could not use other funds for its construction or maintenance.
The real question is what Hillsdale plans to do with money it fundraises in the future.
One straightforward way to use additional money is to expand the size of the college campus and student population, which is barely more than 1,450 students. Hillsdale has already seen growth, particularly since Arnn began his presidency in 2000.
But Arnn said the administration is prioritizing improving Hillsdale more than expanding it.
“We’ve come to the point where we’re turning away more students than we accept. And it’s true that our faculty positions, based on the huge standards we have here, those applications have improved,” he said.
Hillsdale awards a large amount of money to students in the form of low tuition and scholarships. The administration is looking to fundraise another $150 – 200 million to fully endow its scholarship endowment.
Hillsdale’s Barney Charter Schools are currently about 40 percent endowed. With a larger endowment, the program would be able to increase from 21 employees to its goal of 50 employees across the country.
Flannery jokingly described the most immediate impact of the college’s finances: “We’re probably going to be open next fall.”