Seventy higher-education institutions had endowments valued at more than $1 billion at the end of 2008, the Government Accountability Office says.

A GAO report released in February says that the nation's four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities collectively held more than $400 billion in endowments in 2008, compared with a little more than $100 billion in 1989.

Endowments for these institutions ranged in size from several thousand dollars to tens of billions of dollars, with a median endowment size of a little more than $21 million.

Private colleges and universities tend to have larger endowments than public ones, the report found. Private institutions made up about two-thirds of higher-education institutions in 2008, but accounted for more than three-quarters of total endowment assets. Per student, the difference between private and public institution endowments is greater. The median endowment per full-time-equivalent student was $19,072 at private schools and $3,105 at public institutions.

Endowment size, 2008 Number of
higher-education institutions
$5 billion or more 16
$1 billion to $5 billion 54
$500 million to $1 billion 60
$100 million to $500 million 267
$10 million to $100 million 889
Less than $1 million 163