Santa Clara University

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Financial Overview

Since taking office, one of President Michael Engh’s key priorities has been monitoring the University’s economic health. The balanced budget that trustees approved in February 2009 maintains a commitment to academic quality, avoids layoffs, addresses changing financialaid needs, and builds financial reserves.

Deans and other administrators were asked to economize operating budgets wherever possible, with an expected savings of $2 million. “Targets were categories such as travel and entertainment—not academic programs,” Engh said.

Finanacial Overview 

In addition, most construction has been deferred. Faculty, staff, and administrators have forgone pay increases (save faculty who are promoted and employees with certain kinds of contracts or collective bargaining agreements).

The University has tried to minimize the financial impact on students. About 75 percent of the budget is funded by tuition, which increased this year by 3 percent for undergraduate and most graduate students, and 3.5 percent for law students. This is the smallest percentage increase in 25 years.

One special area of concern is for currently enrolled students in need of emergency financial aid. For them the University created Special Assistance Awards (originally called Emergency Financial Aid) in fall 2008. By the end of the 2009 academic year, 97 students were awarded $767,741 in supplemental aid. The University funded these grants through gifts from alumni, friends, and parents.

In November 2008, an anonymous donor agreed to match other gifts for emergency financial aid with a challenge grant of $100,000. Then the Jesuit community designated a portion of its annual gift to the University to create another challenge of $200,000. And early in 2009, the same anonymous trustee gave another $100,000 to help meet still-growing needs. By June 30, each of these challenges had been met.

The global financial crisis led to a decline in the University’s endowment by 21 percent to approximately $529 million in 2009. With the most recent economic recovery, the University is well positioned with its diversified investment portfolio to take advantage of this turnaround.


Since its founding in 1851, Santa Clara has made every effort to educate students in uncertain financial circumstances. When donors endow scholarships, this practice becomes reality. “Endowments impact more lives on a continuing basis than a one-time contribution,” reminded Jim Purcell, vice president for University Relations. “It is a legacy that fuels student success in the present and the future.”

The University faces another challenge in the declining number of alumni who give annually to the University. Alumni giving participation has fallen from a high of 27 percent in 2001 to a record low of 15.5 percent in 2009.

SCU undergraduate alumni giving participation: the trend

Alumni giving participation is not a mere statistic. Its impact is felt by students and their families on an ongoing basis. It is because of alumni support that many of our students are able to keep their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a successful future alive.

Alumni participation is one of the most important metrics used to determine national rankings. It also helps leverage financial support from corporations and foundations. Collectively, thousands of individual contributions, big and small, provide much-needed scholarships, services, programs, and facilities. In a very real sense, a commitment to annual giving is a way of ensuring the success of our students and our University.

Operating Revenues


Santa Clara University’s primary source of revenue is tuition and fees from current students. Gifts to the endowment or capital projects are not used for operations and not included in these charts.

Santa Clara University maintains a high level of fiscal responsibility and control that is overseen by the administration and managed by the University Finance Office, which is responsible for the accounting, budgeting, collection, and management of operational funds. The annual budget planning process is led by the University Budget Council with the support of the president and senior management. The budget planning process culminates in the development of a Five-Year Financial Operating Plan. The Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees has provided important advice as the University has navigated through the recent turbulent periods of economic uncertainty.