20. University of Miami

University of Miami logo monument on campus
YES Market Media / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 1,700

Known UHNW alumni: 248

UHNW alumni from the University of Miami are worth an estimated $214 billion, and 70% say they’re entirely self-made.

That’s surprising, considering how total fees for an undergrad living on campus add up to more than $75,000 for the 2021-2022 academic year.

That said, U.S. News reports that financial aid and scholarships can drop the total cost to around $40,000.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson reportedly graduated from UM with a degree in criminology — and while he never pursued a career in law, the action film star has an estimated net worth of around $400 million.

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19. Boston University

Boston University sign on street
Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 1,640

Known UHNW alumni: 203

Boston’s UHNW grads have an estimated total wealth of $277 billion, but only 55% are considered entirely self-made. About 12% are women — the highest proportion on this list.

Fees can cost a BU resident student about $80,000 for just one academic year, which helps explain its reputation for rich students.

Media executive Shari Redstone studied law at BU and has a net worth of $500 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

18. University of Virginia

Student reading a book at university of Virginia library
University of Virginia

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 1,650

Known UHNW alumni: 251

It costs the typical student resident only about $17,000 to attend UVA for one academic year, according to the school’s website. That’s much less than the costs associated with Ivy League institutions such as Harvard and Princeton.

Billionaire real estate developer David Walentas donated $100 million to his alma mater in 2019 to help first-generation students.

Just 7% of the university’s UHNW alumni are of international origin.

UVA’s wealthiest grads are worth an estimated $246 billion in total, but 84% are considered fully self-made — the highest rate on this list.

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17. University of California, Los Angeles

Students walk together across the UC Irvine campus.
Elena Zhukova / University of California

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 1,945

Known UHNW alumni: 277

UCLA’s most affluent alumni are worth an estimated $375 billion in total and 79% are considered fully self-made — one of the highest proportions on this list.

A student living on campus would pay an estimated $36,700 in fees, according to the university website. However, it mentions that more than 70% of California undergrads receive an average of $17,000 in grants and scholarships.

The college also came under fire in 2020 for accepting some students, who were the children of staff and wealthy donors, over more qualified applicants.

MySpace co-founder Tom Anderson, who has a net worth of $60 million, studied film-critical studies at UCLA.

16. University of Michigan

University of Michigan football fans enter the stadium before the BYU game on September 26, 2015.
Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 1,970

Known UHNW alumni: 281

UMich’s top wealthy grads are worth an estimated $691 billion and 78% are considered entirely self-made.

The school’s website estimates the cost for in-state residents at $32,000 to $34,000, but the fees more than double for out-of-state, non-resident undergrads.

Bridge Michigan also reports that UMich struggles to attract students from low- and moderate-income families, despite financial aid programs.

Notable alumni include Google co-founder Larry Page, who’s worth a whopping $125 billion according to Forbes, and Madonna — worth $850 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

15. University of Notre Dame

Students outside of campus
University of Notre Dame

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,085

Known UHNW alumni: 316

The University of Notre Dame’s richest grads are worth an estimated total of $179 billion — that’s the lowest figure on this list — and a mere 4% are women.

About 75% of its UHNW alumni are considered fully self-made, but undergraduate students (or their families) need to be able to afford the cost of attendance, which sits at more than $78,000 for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Best-selling author Nicholas Sparks (worth $40 million) and former NFL quarterback Joe Montana (worth $150 million) both graduated from the university.

14. Princeton University

Students studying in library at Princeton University
Princeton University

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,180

Known UHNW alumni: 309

UHNW alumni from prestigious Princeton University are worth an estimated total of $1,226 billion.

About 78% say they've created their own wealth (without an inheritance), even though CNBC says most Princeton students come from wealthy backgrounds.

The cost of resident attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year is $74,190, but recipients of financial aid pay an average of $11,990, according to the school’s website.

Among the notable alumni of Princeton are former first lady Michelle Obama and former Google CEO and billionaire Eric Schmidt.

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13. The University of Texas at Austin

Students studying at The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,195

Known UHNW alumni: 332

The wealthiest grads from the University of Texas at Austin are worth an estimated total of $463 billion, and 77% say they’re entirely self-made.

The college website says a student living on or off campus could spend $28,900 to $31,600 in fees in each academic year.

Dell Technologies billionaire founder and CEO Michael Dell and Oscar award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey both graduated from the school — the latter has taught courses there as well.

In 2020, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation also pledged $100 million in support of low-income students attending the university.

12. Cornell University

Cornell University sign with red flowers
Amy Lutz / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,245

Known UHNW alumni: 299

The richest grads from Cornell University are worth an estimated $483 billion — unsurprising, considering it’s one of America’s Ivy League schools.

About 10% of students reportedly come from families within the top 1% income bracket in the country, although 74% of UHNW alumni say they’re fully self-made.

A state resident living on or off campus would spend more than $60,000 for one academic year at Cornell, according to the school’s website.

Among Cornell’s famous alumni are Bill Nye (the Science Guy), Dr. Anthony Fauci and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The uber-wealthy include former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill (net worth of $1 billion) and software entrepreneur David Duffield (net worth of $15.5 billion).

11. University of California, Berkeley

University of California Berkeley flag on restaurant
@BigGirlCamera / Twenty20

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,385

Known UHNW alumni: 295

Berkeley’s elite alumni are worth an estimated total of $760 billion, and 76% are considered entirely self-made. Around 27% are of international origin.

A California resident attending the school would spend about $39,550 in fees, according to its website (while a non-resident would fork over nearly $30,000 more).

Berkeley ranks among the top 12 schools for Forbes 400 members as well in 2021.

Affluent alumni include the likes of DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, who took his food-delivery business public in 2020 and has a net worth of $2.9 billion, and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, worth $10.2 billion.

10. Yale University

Ivy League students wearing their Yale jean jackets designed by them at the football game tailgate
@mylove4art / Twenty20

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,400

Known UHNW alumni: 358

Yale lands among the top 10 for wealthy grads — Wealth-X estimates they’re worth $777 billion, and 77% are considered fully self-made, although the college was implicated in an admissions scandal in 2019.

One academic year with tuition, room and board, books and personal expenses costs more than $81,000, according to the school’s website.

According to Forbes, alumni include 21 billionaires, among them three of the Mars candy heirs, Alibaba co-founder and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai and Pinterest co-founder Paul Sciarra.

9. University of Chicago

Students on campus at University of Chicago
University of Chicago

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,405

Known UHNW alumni: 326

About 84% of UofC’s super-rich alumni are considered self-made — that’s the highest proportion on this list, tied with the University of Virginia. They’re worth an estimated total of $707 billion.

That said, an on-campus student pays about $82,800 in fees for the 2021/2022 academic year, according to the school’s website. That’s much higher than the median household income in the city of Chicago itself.

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David Rubenstein, the billionaire co-founder of private equity firm Carlyle Group, graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1973. He’s also a member of the school’s board of trustees and committed $13 million to the Rubenstein Scholars Program in 2019.

8. University of Southern California

Students on campus at University of Southern California
University of Southern California

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,645

Known UHNW alumni: 319

USC’s richest alumni are worth an estimated $548 billion, but only 60% are considered fully self-made — the second-lowest on this list.

Remember Lori Loughlin and the college admissions scandal? The TV actress and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, reportedly paid $500,000 to get their daughters admitted into USC.

It can cost an undergraduate more than $81,000 to attend a full year at the private university, which has a reputation for hosting students from extremely wealthy families.

Forbes reported in 2021 that 15 billionaires studied at the school, including Star Wars director George Lucas and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

7. Northwestern University

Northwestern University library building
Liz Albro Photography / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,725

Known UHNW alumni: 365

This private university in Evanston, Ill., boasts UHNW grads worth an estimated total of $389 billion, although it lags behind for its percentage of self-made people (at 72%). About 11% are women, however, which is the second-highest proportion on this list.

It costs an undergrad about $83,800 for one academic year, according to the school’s website. (Time to open that 529 plan.)

You might be rubbing shoulders with future stars if you attend — among its alumni are celebs David Schwimmer and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Student reads beside MIT sign on campus
2p2play / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 2,785

Known UHNW alumni: 351

The Cambridge, Mass.-based institution’s richest alumni have amassed a total estimated wealth of $990 billion, and 78% are considered fully self-made.

Students pay around $77,000 a year to attend MIT.

Best known for its engineering and physical science programs, the school has churned out self-made billionaires such as Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston and BeiGene CEO John Oyler, as well as the Koch brothers.

Forbes says half of MIT’s billionaires have inherited their fortunes.

5. New York University

NYU graduation, students in purple caps and gowns waving NYU flag
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 3,380

Known UHNW alumni: 456

New York University, renowned for its fantastic academic programs — and for producing no small number of celebrities — makes the top five on this list.

Its UHNW alumni are worth an estimated total of $712 billion, but only 73% are considered self-made, falling on the lower end of the spectrum of this list for non-inherited wealth. About 10% are women.

A student living on or off campus would spend more than $80,000 for one academic year at the school.

Famous NYU grads include folks in the film industry, such as Spike Lee and Adam Sandler, and business people including former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and billionaire investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen.

4. Columbia University

Statue in front of the Columbia University Library
STUDIO MELANGE / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 3,925

Known UHNW alumni: 516

This renowned Ivy League school is New York’s oldest higher-education institution and was named America’s richest non-profit in 2018, thanks to some generous donations.

The super-rich grads of Columbia University are worth an estimated $1.5 billion, although only 73% are considered fully self-made. About 10% are women.

The annual cost of attendance is more than $82,000, although half of the students receive grants from the school, according to its website — the average amount awarded is around $52,000.

Forbes says 11 billionaires are graduates of this institution, and more than half have gained their wealth in the finance and investments sector. Billionaires Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, and Rocco Commisso, founder of cable company Mediacom, both graduated from Columbia.

3. University of Pennsylvania

Students walking on the campus of University of Pennsylvania
Kristopher Kettner / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 5,575

Known UHNW alumni: 744

Forbes ranks the University of Pennsylvania in second place for producing the most billionaire alumni and notes that many studied at the Wharton School for business.

Penn’s UHNW alumni are worth an estimated $1,780 billion, but a meager 5% are women. Three-quarters are entirely self-made.

One year at the college costs around $61,000 — this includes a technology fee for online learning services and a clinical fee for health and counseling services.

Uber-wealthy grads include Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Lance Gokongwei, who helms Filipino conglomerate JG Summit.

2. Stanford University

Spiral staircase at Stanford University
Stanford University

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 5,580

Known UHNW alumni: 775

Taking second place on the list of wealthiest grads is California’s Stanford University, where UHNW alumni are worth a staggering $2,899 billion. About 78% are considered self-made.

The typical student pays around $79,000 in expenses, though the school’s senior director of media relations told CNBC Make It in 2019 that two-thirds of undergraduates receive financial aid, about half receive needs-based scholarship support from Stanford and more than 80% graduate with zero student debt.

Stanford also ties for second place on Forbes’ list of the colleges that produce the most billionaire alumni, which mentioned the founders of Carvana, DoorDash, Nubank, Robinhood and Zillow.

1. Harvard University

Harvard students on lawn in the sun
Jaroslav Monchak / Shutterstock

Estimated total UHNW alumni: 13,650

Known UHNW alumni: 1,830

Harvard University produces the richest grads in the country (to no one’s surprise), as well as the most billionaire alumni.

Nearly 80% of Harvard’s UHNW alumni are considered self-made, and more than a quarter are of international origin. They’ve amassed a total wealth of $4,769 billion — leagues ahead of the other colleges on this list.

It can cost $78,000 to $82,000 to attend one academic year at the school (without factoring in health insurance), however it also offers 100% of needs-based aid.

Forbes says 17 of its 29 billionaires made their fortunes in the finance and investments sector, such as the Winklevoss twins, who founded Winklevoss Capital Management and invested in cryptocurrency, and former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

How to boost your net worth (without a fancy degree)

Adult man hands count money dollars
Grustock / Shutterstock

While going to a prestigious school is no guarantee of financial success, it sure can help. People without the opportunity to attend have to find other ways to build their fortune.

If you want to become a millionaire, start with some of these fundamental money-saving and money-making strategies:

  • Land a better mortgage rate. Interest rates are historically low right now, but they may not stay that way for long. If you refinance, you may be able to save hundreds each month and thousands over the lifespan of your loan.
  • Consolidate high interest debt. With interest rates as bad as 20% — or even worse — credit cards make it easy to fall into debt. Combining all of your balances into one loan with a much lower interest rate can help you save hundreds and free yourself from debt faster.
  • Invest in a "fine" asset. Returns on fine art by the likes of Banksy and Andy Warhol have crushed the S&P 500 in recent years. That used to be an option only for the ultra rich, but with a new investing platform, you can invest in iconic artworks, too, just like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates do.
  • Turn pennies into a portfolio. Even if you don't have much money to spare, you can still earn big returns from today’s runaway stock market. A popular app will help you invest your “spare change” from everyday purchases.

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About the Author

Serah Louis

Serah Louis

Senior Staff Writer

Serah Louis is a staff writer with MoneyWise.com. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, where she double majored in Biology and Professional Writing and Communications.

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Disclaimer

The content provided on MoneyWise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.