Total endowed funds as of June 30, 2018 were $887.4 million, as compared to $820.3 million the previous year, an increase of $67.1 million. In comparison, total endowed funds increased by $66.8 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, from $753.5 million at June 30, 2016.
Like most private liberal arts schools, the endowment is the financial cornerstone of the College. Nearly all of Oberlin’s 1,700 endowed funds are invested within the General Investment Pool. The College’s General Investment Pool was $887.0 million at June 30, 2018, versus $819.9 million at June 30, 2017, a $67.1 million increase. The change in the total value from year to year is the result of changes in the market values of our pooled investments and the many donor- and board-designated gifts received from generous alumni and friends during the fiscal year, offset by the distribution of cumulative investment earnings.
Such distributions of investment earnings from our endowment provide long-term funding for student financial aid, support faculty compensation and fund academic programs, and totaled $41.6 million for operations. Capital and deferred gifts totaled $12.5 million this fiscal year, of which $7.3 million were donor-designated endowed gifts. In fiscal year 2017, capital and deferred gifts were $18.7 million, with $7.2 million of donor-designated endowed gifts. In fiscal year 2018, the College’s net total investment return for the General Investment Pool was 12.4% as compared to a total net return in fiscal year 2017 of 13.5%.
Over the past 20 years, the General Investment Pool has grown from $440.9 million to $887.0 million. Oberlin College’s spending and investment policies have provided substantial levels of financial support to the operating budget. The annual distributions are critical in supporting our academic mission while preserving endowment purchasing power for future generations.
Oberlin College’s endowment has a highly diversified portfolio with allocations to hedge funds, private equity and real assets, which include venture capital, private real estate, private energy and other alternative investments. Our allocations to alternative investments have been higher than many other endowments our size. Historically, our relatively higher allocations have both increased investment returns and decreased volatility.