Princeton University Is the World’s First Perpetual Motion Machine

Malcolm Gladwell
Oh, MG

Excerpt: This breakthrough happened quietly, as many epochal events often do, buried in a press release issued by the school on October 29, 2021. Why was the breakthrough ignored until now? I cannot say for certain, except that perhaps few observers of America’s educational system are as unhealthily obsessed with the fine print of Ivy League press releases as I am.

But when I read the news, I will tell you in all candor, I gasped in shock. For years I’ve been quietly predicting that this moment would someday come. And now it has. After a stellar year in 2021, Princeton University has an endowment of $37.7 billion. Now—what is Princeton’s annual operating budget? $1.86 billion. The arithmetic here is not hard. $3.77 billion in investment income minus $1.86 billion in operating expenses leaves you with $1.91 billion. Princeton could let in every student for free.