The projected federal government spending of 2021 is $6.8 Trillion. This figure is higher than any budget in the history of the United States. Due to this, American colleges can secure more funding from the government than ever before. But only some colleges in America have been able to secure a significant increase in governmental awards. This article will highlight 30 American colleges that have been particularly successful in benefiting from new federal and state funding opportunities.
A range of funding in 2021 has specifically enabled colleges in the United States to gain increased revenues. For instance, in May, the Department of Education released $36 billion in funding to colleges and students through the American Rescue Plan Act. Additionally, in July, the same department announced $3.2 Billion in emergency relief funds for students and historic/under-resourced institutions. And by the end of 2021, further legislation that would provide a range of educational funding, such as $10 billion for colleges to improve their public transportation systems, was nearing passage into law.
But the advantages that colleges in the US can gain due to increased funding go further than money targeted explicitly toward education. For example, science research funding is also undergoing a significant investment set to impact colleges in 2022 positively. This ranking considered a range of means by which colleges have gained funding via the government. Colleges do not just need to have used education-specific funding to have been included in this list. Instead, the colleges need to demonstrate that the government funding they have secured benefits their students, faculty, staff, and the wider community. Another important consideration for inclusion in this ranking based on future funding opportunities is whether or not the college is proactively attempting to continue increasing funding in 2022 and beyond. Colleges that can demonstrate that their ability to secure financing is likely to continue in the future have been given the highest rankings.
Any one of the 30 colleges in this ranking is a strong choice for a student who wants to attend an institution that knows how to secure government funding successfully. But it’s also possible that none of the colleges are right for you. If this is the case, this ranking can still be a vital resource in your college search. Each entry summarized what funding the college is accessing and how it is being implemented. These have been included to contrast and compare with your own college options. If any college that you’re considering is securing government funding with similar levels of success as the 30 ahead, that indicates that it’s a strong college choice.
Research for the entries in this article consists of recent sources that highlight colleges that are benefiting from government funding. In addition to these current sources, we have also researched older sources that indicate the colleges that have previously secured high levels of government funding. After identifying the colleges in both types of sources, we conducted further research to understand how they have increased government funding in 2021 plan to increase government funding in the future. Here is the complete list of sources:
Best Colleges, Colleges With the Highest Research and Development Funding
The final ranking has been sorted with the following criteria: Evidence of the college gaining a significant increase in funding, evidence of the college investing to increase its future government funding, proof of the funding going into innovative programs, and aggregated ranking/number of mentions on the methodology sources.
Our ranking, from 30 to one, is here:
30. Diné College
One of the most impressive acts to result in 2021 government funding at Diné College comes from Assistant Professor Rhiannon Sorrell. Sorrell formed a partnership with Northern Arizona University, resulting in a $350,000 award from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize historical film material of the region. The college is also using its funding from previous years to build infrastructure that will boost future government funding. For example, in June 2021, it began constructing the $7.4 million Math and Science Building. The Department of Education’s press release on the American Rescue Plan Act notes that Diné College had distributed over $600,000 in previous funding to students.
29. Northern Virginia Community College
Of the federal grants Northern Virginia Community College has received in 2021, the $1.3 million in funding for supporting Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students is the most impressive. This funding came from the Department of Education, and the college was one of only 13 in the nation that was successful in qualifying. Another impressive federal grant the college recently secured is $466,000 to create a center of excellence for veteran students. The college managed to receive $1.11 million from the Go Virginia Grant on the state level in July. This money will go into improving its information engineering technology education. The Department of Education press release regarding the American Rescue Plan Act highlights that Northern Virginia Community College used 25% of its previous pandemic funding to provide emergency grants to students.
28. California Institute of Technology
In July 2021, the California Institute of Technology announced that the National Science Foundation had selected it, alongside the University of Arizona, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Southern California, to create a $3 million center that will advance at-home healthcare technology. Later in 2021, the college stated that the Department of Education had awarded it $2.3 million in pandemic relief funding. USA Facts notes that in 2018, the California Institute of Technology received the single most significant federal contract investment of any American college.
27. Fisk University
On the federal level, Fisk University has successfully gained funding in 2021. For example, in October 2021, the college announced that it had acquired $750,000 from the Department of Education’s Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program to fund the STEM through Rocketry Electronics Engagement and Coding Program. On the state level, the college has seen similar levels of success. For instance, in June 2021, the college revealed that it was one of the recipients of a $38.8 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Health to address coronavirus health disparities. Department of Education also uses Fisk University’s distribution of emergency aid to students as an example of how colleges can use American Rescue Plan Act funding effectively.
26. Alcorn State University
The 2021-2022 budget for Alcorn State University anticipates seeing a $1.6 million increase in government funding, bringing the total government funding level to $28 million. Since this budget was published, the college has successfully gained long-term funding from the federal government. For example, in October, the college announced that it had been awarded $2.7 million by the Department of Education. This money will fund programs that help students from disadvantaged backgrounds to reach graduation. The Department of Education’s press release about the American Rescue Plan Act highlights that Alcorn State University had previously used coronavirus relief funding to provide virtual academic support options.
25. Oregon State University
In 2021, the Oregon State Legislature increased funding for public universities until at least 2023, benefiting Oregon State University and a number of other colleges. Additionally, in the fiscal year of 2021, the college benefited from gaining $27 million of federal pandemic relief funding. The college’s research funding also increased during this time, making the 2021 fiscal year the 17th year out of the last 19 years in which research expenditures have increased. USA Facts also notes that the Oregon State University gained the fifth most significant federal grant investment of any college in 2018.
24. Foothill-De Anza Community College
Los Altos Hills, California
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, Foothill-De Anza Community College gained $10.7 million in early 2021. The college is also benefiting from increased funding at the state level. For example, in its 2021-2022 budget, the college notes that the California State Government is providing the college with $13.5 million to conduct capital projects. The Department of Education’s press release about the American Rescue Plan Act praises Foothill-De Anza Community College for using previous federal funding to establish mental wellness programming for students.
23. Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
The American Rescue Plan Act awarded Cornell University $33 million. The college has also benefited from increased funding not connected to pandemic relief. For example, in January 2021, the Department of Agriculture gave the college $2 million to research new solutions to water decontamination and foodborne illness risks. The college has continued to maintain robust funding from the federal government throughout 2021. For example, in October 2021, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture granted the college $3 million to develop new cover crops for organic farmers. Best Colleges notes that, in 2017, Cornell University gained the 13th highest research and development funding in the US.
22. Alabama State University
In October 2021, Alabama State University announced that it had gained its single largest grant of all time. This grant totaled $24.7 million. Over the next seven years, it will fund the creation and implementation of a program that increases the readiness of public school children for college and other educational opportunities. The American Rescue Plan Act also provided the college with $19 million. The Department of Education’s press release about the American Rescue Plan Act also notes that Alabama State University used previous coronavirus relief funding to purchase personal protective equipment.
21. Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Before the pandemic, Michigan State University had invested its federal funding into operations to boost future funding opportunities. One example is the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, which is constructed with a $730 million fund from the Department of Energy Office of Science and is scheduled to open in 2022. In September 2021, the college also announced that it would increase funding from the state government, which included a 3.8% rise in general operations funding. Earlier in 2021, Michigan State University also received $41 million from the federal government via the American Rescue Plan Act to provide financial aid grants to students. USA Facts notes that, in 2018, Michigan State University was the recipient of the third-largest federal grant investment of any US college.
20. Miami Dade College
In late 2021, Miami Dade College announced that it had secured funding from several government sources. For instance, the Department of Education gave the college $3 million via the Title V Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions Funding Award. Earlier in 2021, the college was able to gain $175 million in funding thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, with $88 million of this funding going directly to students. The Pew 2019 report on higher education funding notes that Miami Dade College is one of the top three colleges for receiving Pell Grants.
19. San Joaquin Delta College
The Department of Education notes that San Joaquin Delta College was quick to allocate $6.2 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for students who needed the most financial support. The college’s 2021-2022 budget also notes that it will benefit from the State of California making significant investments in supporting community colleges. San Joaquin Delta College has also worked with government-managed services to provide benefits for its community. For instance, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, governed by the Stockton City Council and San Joaquin Board of Supervisors, recently agreed to a partnership with the college to provide free unlimited transportation for students.
18. Arizona State University
For the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Arizona State University has predicted a $61 million increase in research spending. This figure comes after some successful government funding initiatives in the previous fiscal year, such as the renewal of a $16.4 million National Science Foundation award. The college has also benefited significantly from coronavirus relief spending. For instance, the college gained $191 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. More than half of this funding went directly to students. The 2019 Pew report notes that Arizona State University is one of the top three colleges for gaining Pell Grant funding.
17. University of California, Berkeley
In the 2021 fiscal year, the University of California, Berkeley saw an almost 50% increase in research funding from the federal government. Overall, the college’s sponsored research funding topped $1 billion for the first-ever time. The college also received $79 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. It is also using its connections with other University of California colleges to gain further government funding. For instance, in December 2021, the college announced that it had successfully raised $17 million from government sources to study a clinical trial of a cure for sickle cell disease. This funding was secured thanks to technology developed by the Innovative Genomics Institute, a joint University of California, Berkeley/University of California, San Francisco initiative, and the University of California, Los Angeles’s expertise in clinical analysis. USA Facts notes that in 2018, the University of California, Berkeley received the second-largest federal contract investments of any American college.
16. Ivy Tech Community College
In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Ivy Tech Community College saw a 95.3% increase in federal funding and a 26.2% increase in state/local government funding. Overall, this combined government funding totaled $20 million. The college’s ability to secure government funding appears to be benefiting its students. For instance, in June 2021, the college announced that it could make its education more affordable by making tuition fees the same for any student enrolled in 12 or more credits per year and by covering the cost of student textbooks. The 2019 Pew report into higher education funding notes that Ivy Tech Community College is one of the top three colleges for receiving Pell Grants.
15. University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
75% of the University of California, Los Angeles’s 2021 fiscal year research expenditures were funded by government sources. Since this fiscal year ended, the college has continued to gain funding for new projects. For instance, in July, the college managed to gain $250,000 from the California state budget to create a Hollywood diversity report. Best Colleges notes that the University of California, Los Angeles had the 12th highest research and development expenditure in 2017. 24/7 Wall Street states that the college had the sixteenth highest total federal funding in 2015.
14. Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
In November 2021, Duke University announced that it had gained additional funding from the federal government to grant to students. Eligible students would gain either $1,750 or $3,000 depending on their level of financial need. The college is also likely to increase its government research funding in the future, as its board of trustees has spent a significant amount of time studying ways to commercialize its research more effectively. In February 2021, the college announced that it was among the top 10 for gaining federal medical research funding in the previous year. Best Colleges notes that Duke University had the eighth highest research and development expenditure in 2017. 24/7 Wall Street states that in 2015, the college gained the 11th highest total federal funding.
13. University of Pennsylvania
In the 2021-2022 academic year, the University of Pennsylvania has launched an initiative to ensure that its students can access 100% of the government funding that it has received due to coronavirus. Overall, the college gained $40.5 million in funding from the government to distribute over this time. This initiative suggests that the college has successfully increased its already high level of government funding. In April 2021, the college announced that it was the number one college for gaining funding for training grants from the National Institutes of Health. Best Colleges states that the University of Pennsylvania had the fourth highest research and design expenditure in 2017. Wall Street notes that the college gained the sixth-highest total federal funding in 2015.
12. The University of Wisconsin-Madison
In August 2021, The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that it had gained $53.4 million in pandemic aid, with $28.6 million of this aid going directly to students. And in October 2021, the college reported that it had expanded its federally funded work-study initiative with businesses. This funding will therefore allow more students to gain practical work experience. Best Colleges states that The University of Wisconsin-Madison had the sixth-highest research and development expenditure in 2017. 24/7 Wall Street notes that the college gained the 13th highest amount of federal funding in 2015.
11. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The total sponsored support (with the vast majority of this support coming from federal and state governments) that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received from July 2020 to June 2021 increased by $55 million compared to the previous year. Additionally, other funding sources at the college are being used to help increase future government funding. For example, the college’s endowment grew significantly from June 2020 to June 2021, and the college stated that it would use this money to invest in further research operations. USA Facts says that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had the third-largest federal contract investment in 2018. Best Colleges states in 2017, the college had the 14th highest research and development funding. 24/7 Wall Street states that the college gained the 18th highest federal funding in 2015.
10. Harvard University
In 2021, Harvard University’s federal funding increased to $625 million. This figure could have been even higher; however, the college’s leadership decided to decline coronavirus stimulus funding later in the year. Instead, the college decided to use its endowment as a funding source in later instances in 2020. An example of the kind of government funding that Harvard University has received in 2021 is a $2.8 million award from the National Science Foundation to help minority youth pursue STEM careers. USA Facts highlights that, in 2018, Harvard University gained the most significant federal grant of any US college. Best Colleges stated in 2017 that the college had the ninth highest research and development funding. 247 Wall Street notes that in 2015, Harvard University gained the 14th highest federal funding of any college.
9. Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut
In the 2021 fiscal year, Yale University’s grant and contract income increased by 4.8% to $877 million, with $669 million of this funding coming from the federal government (an unspecified amount also came from the Connecticut State Government.) And thanks to strong financial growth, in late 2021, the college decided to invest in a range of areas that would likely increase future government funding, such as building infrastructure and hiring new faculty members. The college’s government funding would have been even higher in 2020 and 2021, but the college decided to decline $28.9 million in coronavirus relief over this time. Best Colleges notes that Yale University had the 15th highest research and development funding in 2017. 24/7 Wall Street states that the college had the 20th highest federal funding in 2015.
8. University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
In 2021, the University of California, San Francisco announced that in 2020 it was the public college that had received the highest level of funding from the National Institutes of Health for the 14th year in a row. This level of funding has also increased every year since 2013, with the 2020 funding being $686 million. Some updates indicate that the college has continued to see substantial increases in government funding in 2021. For instance, in February, it announced that it had already gained additional emergency grant funding for students from the Department of Education. Best Colleges notes that in 2017, the University of California, San Francisco had the third-highest research and development expenditure. 24/7 Wall Street states that in 2015, the college gained the 15th highest level of federal funding of any university.
7. University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California
In the fiscal year of 2021, the University of California, San Diego, gained a record-breaking $1.54 billion in research funding, with $891 million of this figure coming from federal agencies. Some of the projects that this money went into included establishing The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, investigating solutions to wildfires, and creating a fellowship in addiction psychiatry. Best Colleges states that the University of California, San Diego had the seventh-highest research and development expenditure of any college in 2017. 24/7 Wall Street notes that the college gained the sixth-highest total amount of federal funding in 2015.
6. Stanford University
The 2021 to 2022 budget plan that Stanford University is currently adhering to expects federally funded direct research to increase by 3.3%. The college appears to be successful in gaining funding for a range of innovative projects. For instance, in November 2021, the college announced that it was expecting to gain $15 million from the National Institutes of Health over the next four years to study the long-term impacts of coronavirus. USA Facts states that in 2018, Stanford University received the fourth-largest federal contract investment of any college. Best Colleges says that in 2017, the college gained the 10th highest research and design funding. 24/7 Wall Street states that the college had the fourth-highest total federal funding in 2015.
5. Johns Hopkins University
As of December 2021, the most recently released National Science Foundation report on higher education research and design names Johns Hopkins University as the highest recipient of funding. The report, which tracks the year 2019 but was released in January 2021, states that the college received $2.9 billion in that year. The college has likely increased its government funding in 2021, as there is ample evidence of the college expanding its research operations. For example, in October 2021, the college received the first federal grant for psychedelic treatment in 50 years. USA Facts notes that Johns Hopkins University gained the third-largest federal grant of any college in 2018. Best Colleges stated in a 2021 ranking that the college had the highest research and development funding of any college. 24/7 Wall Street says that in 2015, the college had the most increased total federal funding of any college.
4. Columbia University
New York City, New York
From July 2020 to June 2021, Columbia University had received an additional $80 million in government funding, compared to the previous 12 months. The college is also proactively attempting to increase the future level of government funding across the entire educational landscape. For instance, in October 2021, the college’s research division was reaching out to New York’s two senators, one of whom includes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other lawmakers, to pass further legislation that boosts scientific research funding. USA Facts notes that in 2018, Columbia University had the second-largest federal grant of any college. 247 Wall Street states that in 2015, Columbia University had the seventh-highest amount of federal funding of any college.
3. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
In August 2021, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that it had topped $1 billion in research funding for the financial year for the second year in a row. One innovative project came from $38.2 million in funding from the National Institute on Aging to create the most extensive study of adolescent health in the history of the US. Other government sources of funding include $638 million from the National Institutes of Health and $56.9 million from the Department of Education. The college is also likely to see increases in funding in the future, as from 2011 to 2021, the college only saw slight decreases in funding in the years 2012 and 2018. Best Colleges notes that The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had the 11th highest research and design funding in 2017. 24/7 Wall Street states that in 2015, the college gained the ninth most money from the federal government. Pew’s 2019 report notes that The University of North Carolina was among the top three public schools for gaining research funding.
2. University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
In October 2021, the University of Michigan’s three campuses all received a 5% increase in funding from the State Government of Michigan. This funding has allowed the college to eliminate tuition increases for students and provide further financial support for low-income students. In June 2021, the college also released its budget for the 2021-2022 academic year. It predicted that the total federal funding for all campuses would be $1.3 billion compared to the 2020-2021 federal funding budget of $1 billion. All indications show that the college is successfully gaining a diverse range of government funding that will continue. For instance, recent awards include $5.4 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study climate change upon the Great Lakes over the next five years and a $3 million award from the National Science Foundation to fund STEM diversification over the next five years. Pew states that in 2019 that the University of Michigan was one of the top three public colleges for gaining federal research funding. Best Colleges notes that in 2017, the University of Michigan had the second-highest research and development funding of any American college. 24/7 Wall Street highlights that in 2015, the college gained the third highest federal funding.
1. University of Washington
In the fiscal year of 2021, the University of Washington secured $1.45 billion in federal funding. This sum eclipses the sum given in 24/7 Wall Street’s ranking 2021 opening of the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health. This center is designed in a way that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration. Pew’s 2019 report notes that the University of Washington is among the top three public schools for gaining federal research funding. Best Colleges states that in 2017, it had the fifth-highest research and development funding.
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