Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. John Thelin


The most significant tax overhaul bill in over thirty years was enacted in 2017 and expected to have wide-ranging effects. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes numerous policies that directly and indirectly impact the higher education sector and the effect to endowments was not addressed in the public debate leading up to enactment. Unlike expendable gifts, a reduction in endowment contributions has a cumulative effect because a gift to an endowment can benefit all subsequent years. Each year following a contribution, investment income earned on the original gift is available for spending and benefits escalate over time in amount, assuming the value of the original gift continues to grow. The purpose of this study is to analyze precisely the direct and indirect impact of personal income tax regulations on the charitable sector. It will do so by disaggregating data to delineate clearly the differential consequences that distinguish higher education from other components of the broad charitable sector umbrella. A model is developed to predict the erosion of endowment wealth following a decrease in contributions due to tax policy using panel data from a previous ten-year period assuming the tax policy was first effective beginning in year one. The erosion of overall endowment wealth is gradual, and subsectors of higher education are predicted to experience varying rates of attrition. Regression analysis is then used on giving by source data to institutional and endowment characteristics indicative of greater reliance on contributions from individuals to the endowment; the results are suggestive but inconclusive.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)