Carnegie Mellon University

Financial Highlights from Angela Blanton, Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer

I am honored to present Carnegie Mellon University’s Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. 

While the ongoing pandemic has posed challenges this year, the university remained agile. Together, we found new ways to deliver meaningful education, advance strategic priorities in research, and provide holistic student experiences while ensuring the health and well-being of our community and expanding efforts to promote access, affordability and student success. The spirit of innovation that is the nucleus of Carnegie Mellon’s mission propelled us forward through innovative, scientific and technological endeavors that impact the world.

Financially, the university entered the pandemic in a position of stability with sufficient liquidity to meet forecasted, as well as unexpected funding needs. This year, a prudent level of continued strong fiscal stewardship of the university’s resources helped CMU maintain healthy financial results through unpredictable times. This provided the capacity to continue our normal operations while also enabling us to act upon opportunities to undertake initiatives of future strategic importance to the university.

Our robust university community has seized the global paradigm shift as an opportunity to meet the challenges at this pivotal time for society with the signature Tartan spirit of innovation, creativity and reinvention. The inspiring stories below from fiscal year 2021 (FY21) showcase how our community thrived and continued to build momentum around the university’s mission and the visionary role that we play in societal change-making as an academic institution. 

Thought Leaders in Science and Technology

We witnessed firsthand the ways technology can facilitate personal connection, inviting us into our most human selves amidst a time of distance. 

In the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Stephan Caspar delivered virtual reality headsets to his students, conducting an entire class in virtual reality, resulting in creating breakthrough moments for students amidst a time of isolation. His foresight into the pandemic's limitations on connections typically built in the classroom helped create an immersive learning experience that had the bonus of teaching students about multimedia storytelling.

For four decades, CMU has been a champion of research in the realm of autonomous driving vehicles. This year, a team of students competed in Roborace, an international competition racing electronically powered self-driving cars. The event serves as a platform to highlight new developments in the field for the public at large, moving research into a dynamic and engaging event. The event might sound like fun and games; however, its aim is to test solar and automation technology to apply beyond the racetrack.

Carnegie Mellon’s advancements in the automotive realm aren’t limited to roadways and speedways. Developed by CMU and its spinoff Astrobotic, a robotic rover called MoonRanger received design approval and, supported by NASA, will be sent on a mission to find water on the moon in 2022. The MoonRanger comes equipped with innovative technologies that allow it to navigate in darkness and move at speeds that far outstrip similar rovers. Given water’s vital role in sustaining human life, this search for lunar ice in the South Pole of the moon is a pivotal moment in the history of robotics and space exploration. 

Programs and advancements like these are the bedrock of CMU’s reputation internationally as thought leaders in the sciences and technology and will carry our legacy forward into the next year, decade and century. 

Deepened Commitments to Inclusion and Sustainability

In countless ways, Carnegie Mellon’s student body, faculty and staff have demonstrated sustained and invigorating devotion to making the world a more equitable and just place this past year. 

CMU in Qatar student Alanoud Al-Ghamdi was invited by the Qatar Museum to create several murals in Doha, the country’s capital. Her chosen theme for this public artwork was in praise of education. As a business administration student, Al-Ghamdi is a model of CMU’s core principle of interdisciplinarity, embodying creative and technical excellence to create an emblem of hope amidst a trying time. 

Meanwhile, locally in Pennsylvania and in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, students launched the Collaboratory Against Hate - Research and Action Center, which aims to combat the insidious rise of extremist hate. Led by faculty experts, this new endeavor seeks to better understand how to mobilize people to intervene when hateful extremist beliefs take root. 

Tartan Scholars, a program specially designed to support students who are academically high-achieving but may have experienced opportunity gaps, doubled the number of first-year students it supports. This year, it welcomed 100 first-year students and expanded its programming. Its focus on connection, communication and coaching supports our efforts to build and sustain an inclusive culture that promotes equity for all.

As part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the university submitted to a Voluntary Review of their progress working toward the 17 goals, which aim to create a more equitable and sustainable planet by 2030. The results were presented at the United Nation’s General Assembly. Carnegie Mellon’s participation in this review, the first of its kind, demonstrated CMU as a thought leader among academic institutions modeling a deep commitment to key issues of this age. Ultimately, this review will encourage accountability and steer the future of the university, establishing us as not simply innovative, but playing a revolutionary role in bettering the world.

Whether personal, local or institutional, each of these moments are ways in which we aim to create a community that is accountable to one another.

New Frontiers for the Next Decade

The university is currently conducting a comprehensive fundraising campaign. In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, the university had its best fundraising year ever and received two of the three largest gifts in its history, which together constituted 72% of the university's new fundraising commitments this year. Thanks to donor generosity, including several generous gifts allocated for the endowment, the university can continue to invest in cultivating a groundbreaking educational institution that fosters sustainable, inclusive and innovative research. 

In May 2021, the Richard King Mellon Foundation announced it will give Carnegie Mellon a landmark $150 million grant to construct a visionary building devoted to the sciences. Additionally, it will support a center for robotics as well as a manufacturing institute at Hazelwood Green, which demonstrates a meaningful investment to reinvigorate the local economy and create jobs. This is the largest grant in the history of the foundation and will help us spearhead the next generation of scientific, technological and economic visionaries. 

In April of this year, the Heinz Endowments committed $30 million over six years to establish the Center for Shared Prosperity at CMU. Focusing on collaboration between the university and local community, this center represents the ongoing commitment CMU has to expanding access, opportunity and economic empowerment in the Pittsburgh region. Taking a holistic approach to the economic and cultural interests of Pittsburgh citizens, this gift will help create solutions for socio-economic stratification, building local bridges across lines of difference. 

These gifts demonstrate sustained relationships with foundations that share deep commitments to uplifting Carnegie Mellon and the values this university champions in Pittsburgh and around the world. 

Financial Results

I now present you with an overview of our financial results, which highlight the university's performance for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021.

Overall Results 

The university’s operating revenues exceeded its operating expenses, yielding an operating gain of $52.3 million. Total net assets increased $1.5 billion or 42.5% since the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020, to an ending value of $5.1 billion on June 30, 2021. The increase in total net assets is driven by investment performance along with positive results of operations and contributions with donor restrictions.


Carnegie Mellon’s investment portfolio represented 61.7% of total assets and was valued at $3.9 billion on June 30, 2021. This portfolio increased by $1.3 billion or 50.1% from June 30, 2020, and includes endowment assets totaling $3.1 billion. The university’s net investment return for FY21 was 42.6%.

Operating Revenues and Expenses

Operating revenues for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) were $1.28 billion, a decrease of $58.4 million, or 4.4%, from Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20). Through June 30, 2021, operating expenses totaled $1.23 billion, a 4.9% or $63.0 million decrease from FY20.

Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Revenues

The decrease in unrestricted operating revenues stems primarily from a decrease in net tuition revenue and auxiliary services revenue. Tuition and other educational fees, net of financial aid, decreased $22.4 million, or -3.8%, to $568.7 million compared to FY20. The decrease in net tuition and fees is primarily due to reduced graduate tuition revenue, decreased summer pre-college programs and higher financial aid. These were offset by increased undergraduate tuition in both the spring and fall semesters.

Sponsored projects revenue was $447.8 million for FY21. This is an increase of $1.9 million or 0.4% compared to FY20. There were increases in sponsored projects revenue in multiple academic units, as well as the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, with $328.1 million for FY21 or 7.8% as compared to FY20. The university’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) experienced a decrease in sponsored projects revenue with $119.7 million for FY21 or 15.5% compared to FY20 stemming from declines in reimbursable expenses.

Auxiliary Revenue decreased $33.4 million to $20.7 million due to COVID-19 impacts on Dining and Housing revenues. During FY21, housing facilities were at 25% to 30% capacity. Dining revenue decreased $11.3 million due to a 57% decrease in meal plan enrollment for FY21.

Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Expenses

Personnel costs, consisting of salaries, wages and employee benefits, remain the university’s single largest category of expense at $876.9 million, or 71.3%, in FY21, representing an increase of $0.3 million, or 0.1%, from the prior fiscal year. These costs increased due to decreased administrative and non-sponsored academic salaries offset by increases in sponsored project salaries and benefits costs. Total expenses were down $63.0 million or 4.9% due to COVID-19 related impacts in areas such as travel, supplies and shipping. Non-sponsored project expenses drove the majority of expense favorability, totaling -$57.5 million of the total -$63.0 million reduction. The reduction of operating expenses again demonstrates the nimbleness of the entire university under the pandemic’s constant and often unpredictable nature.

Looking Ahead

Looking toward the next fiscal year requires significant innovations in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), advanced manufacturing, biotechnology and quantum computing. Succeeding at this will enable the critical breakthroughs needed to address urgent societal challenges in health care, sustainability, transportation, clean energy, public health, cybersecurity and more. To accomplish this, we need to build a broad-based science and technology workforce, leverage higher education’s role in expanding the geography of innovation and develop innovation-based economic partnerships.

We feel equipped and emboldened to take on new challenges and embrace a future where Carnegie Mellon University will continue to imagine and deliver work that matters.



Angela Blanton
Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer
November 5, 2021