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2019 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS) Released

February 19, 2020  | by Commonfund Institute

Industry Knowledge

Independent Schools Report 5.7% Return on Endowment Assets for FY2019

Investment Results Are Lower than Previous 2 Years but at Mid-Point of 5-Year Returns;
10-Year Returns Show Sharp Increase

WILTON, CT, February 19, 2020 – Institutions participating in the Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS) for the 2019 fiscal year reported an average return (net of fees) on their endowment assets of 5.7 percent. This was lower than 7.4 percent reported for fiscal 2018 and 11.8 percent reported for fiscal 2017, but ahead of FY2016 and FY2015, when returns were -0.8 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. The 2019 fiscal year covers the period from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.

Longer-term returns—of primary importance to the financial health and sustainability of perpetual institutions—were generally higher year over year. Trailing 10-year returns rose to an average of 8.1 percent, a marked improvement from last year’s 5.5 percent because the poor return of FY2009—when the financial crisis and recession sparked turmoil in markets worldwide—dropped off the 10-year calculation. Trailing three-year returns also rose, reaching an average of 8.4 percent versus last year’s 6.2 percent. Trailing five-year returns declined, however, falling to 5.6 percent from 7.3 percent a year ago. (All returns are reported net of fees.)

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