The average return on college and university endowments dropped sharply in the last fiscal year, according to a preliminary study released on Thursday.
The endowments, on average, lost money in the fiscal year ending in June, declining by 0.3 percent.
The result is a steep reversal from the previous fiscal year when the average return was 19.2 percent.
The preliminary study found that colleges with the largest endowments, more than $1 billion, did the best, up 1.2 percent in fiscal 2012. The worst performing endowments were those institutions with assets of $51 million to $100 million, which declined by 1 percent.