Investment Office

Assets and Performance

A field hockey athlete makes a play.
Photo credit: Joe Colon

Endowment Market Value

Total endowed funds as of June 30, 2021, were $1,272.4 million, as compared to $936.6 million the previous year—an increase of $335.8 million. The change in total value from year to year is the result of changes in the market value of investments, gifts received from donors, and the endowment spending payout. The payout from the endowment supports Oberlin’s operating budget and provides long-term funding for student financial aid, faculty compensation, and academic programs.

Endowment Market Value (20 Year Trend)

Line chart showing annual growth from less than 600 million in 2002 to 1,272 million in 2021.
2002 to 2021, values in millions

Historical Spending for Operations

The endowment’s core strategy strives to increase the real value of the endowment, provide a dependable stream of support to the institution’s annual operating budget, and achieve earnings at a sustainable rate over the long term while seeking to provide predictability and stability of endowment spending that is essential for long-range planning.

Historically, the endowment has provided approximately 20 percent of Oberlin’s annual operating budget. However, due to the pandemic’s continued effect on operations in fiscal year 2021, the Board of Trustees approved additional operational support of $18.5 million—a remarkable instance of financial flexibility and sustainability in challenging times, and a testament to the strength of Oberlin’s endowment.

Historical Spending for Operations (10-Year Trend)

Yearly values vary slightly from 40 million to 45 million from 2012 to 2020, then jump to 57 million in 2021. Spending for operations averaged 20 to 21% every year
2012 to 2021, values in millions $ (left) and as percentage of operating expenses (right)

Investment Performance

In fiscal year 2021, Oberlin’s net total investment return for the endowment was 42.8 percent as compared to a total net return in fiscal year 2020 of 4.9 percent, resulting in a top quartile ranking across the institution’s peer group.

Endowment and Benchmark Returns

Data provided in the following table.
June 30, 2021
Accessible data table
Data for Chart 3: Endowment and Benchmark Returns (June 30, 2021)
  1 year 3 year 5 year 10 year
Oberlin endowment 42.8% 17.4% 15.6% 10.5%
Strategic benchmark 39.0% 14.3% 12.4% 8.7%
70% ACWI/30% BC Agg 26.3% 12.1% 11.3% 8.2%

Peer Comparison

Average Annual Compound Returns (All Endowments)

Description follows.
Cambridge Associates, June 30, 2021
Accessible description

The Y axis shows return percent, and the X axis shows 4 categories: 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years. For each category, a shaded column indicates the range of returns for all institutions, divided into quartiles. Oberlin's return is plotted as a point in the column. In each time period, Oberlin's return falls in the top quartile.

The height of each column shrinks as the time period gets longer, indicating reduced variance for longer time periods.

  • In the 1-year category, returns range from a low of about 27% to a high of about 52%, with the median at 36%. Oberlin's return of 42.8 is in the top quartile.
  • In the 3-year category, returns range from 10% to about 19%, with the median at about 13%. Oberlin's return of 17.4 is in the top quartile.
  • In the 5-year category, returns range from 10% to about 17%, with the median at about 12%. Oberlin's return of 15.6 is in the top quartile.
  • In the 5-year category, returns range from about 7% to about 12%, with the median at about 9%. Oberlin's return of 10.5 is in the top quartile.

Asset Allocation

Oberlin’s endowment has a highly diversified portfolio with allocations to fixed income/cash, public equity, and alternative strategies that include hedge funds, private equity venture capital, and real assets. Following is the college’s long-term strategic target and actual endowment portfolio allocation for the year ending June 30, 2021.

FY 2021 Asset Allocation
Asset Allocation Strategic Target % Actual %
Cash and cash equivalents 5.0 6.2
Developed markets equity 27.0 26.0
Emerging markets equity 6.0 5.9
Hedge funds 25.0 20.2
Private equity 15.0 14.1
Venture capital 17.0 23.7
Real assets 5.0 3.9
Total 100% 100%

All data provided on this page is updated with audited financial statements and publicly released surveys on an annual basis as of June 30.