Endowment funds last year: $17 billion
Change from previous year: 19.1%
Students last fall: 19,945
Undergraduate tuition: $52,860 for tuition, room and board for the 2011-12 academic year For a school whose most famous graduates were dropouts (see Google ( GOOG) founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or the founders of Yahoo! ( YHOO) and Sun Microsystems ( JAVA), for starters), Stanford University has a generous alumni community that last year contributed more than 36% of the year's $709 million raised for the fifth-largest endowment of any university in the U.S. The money funds 20% of the school's operating budget, allowing Stanford to maintain a top-notch level of instruction that is perhaps so good it allows star pupils to drop out and get rich before getting their degrees.