Nonprofit Resources


Insight on Form 990 Data from Our Annual Higher Education Survey

In our last post, we shared some of the key data from our annual Higher Education Tax Reporting Trends Project survey. This includes statistics on property taxes, accountable reimbursement plan procedures, and new construction. Now we’ll take a look at some of the Form 990 data we gathered.

Nearly 80% of our 198 survey respondents file Form 990 annually. By enrollment size, the figures were:

  • 1,700+ students – 94.87%
  • 500 – 1,700 students – 75.00%
  • Under 500 students – 66.18%

We complied the following Form 990 data from the 158 survey respondents that file annually.

Average Total Employees

The average number of employees (taken from the total on Form W-3) for all Form 990 filers in the survey was 1,104, and 125 of the 158 filers had more than 150 employees.

This is important because we use the 150-employee level as an indicator for analyzing whether an institution would be defined as an Applicable Large Employer (ALE) under the Affordable Care Act. ALEs are subject to several provisions, including Employer Shared Responsibility provisions, and additional reporting. Please see pages 3 – 4 of the 2015 Higher Education Tax Reporting Trends Project white paper for more information on how to determine whether your institution is an ALE, and what you should be tracking.

Average Current Salaries and Compensation

Among all Form 990 filers in our survey, the average compensation per employee (including student employees, adjunct professors, and other part-time workers) was $20,404. See the white paper for a breakdown by enrollment size.

Average Current Year Total Expenses

Average expenses were over $55.3 million, but naturally that varies by school size. Institutions with an enrollment of under 500 had average expenses of nearly $4.2 million, while the average expenses at institutions with more than 1,700 students were $96.6 million.

We also looked at average expenses per enrolled student, which by enrollment size were:

  • 1,700+ students – $22,830
  • 500 – 1,700 students – $27,216
  • Under 500 students – $30,495

We encourage you to download the white paper for the complete results, plus data and insight on other key higher education tax reporting issues. 

In our next post, we’ll summarize some recent higher education tax developments.

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