College presidents can easily net a six-figure salary. In 2013, the median annual pay for a chief executive at a private nonprofit was $436,429 and $428,250 at a public college, according to an analysis by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Thirty-four of the 798 presidents in the report earned more than $1 million (only two serve public schools).
Ironically, these institutions have students who hope their education will bring them a fraction of what a college president earns. They have plenty of financial goals too, and paying off their student loan debt is likely one of them. Nearly 70% of those earning bachelor’s degrees in 2014 carried student loan debt, according to The Institute on College Access and Success, and some of that money went toward presidents’ salaries. (You can see how your student loans are impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)
Here are the men and woman — yes, there is only one — who raked in the most money in 2013, the most recent year for which this data was available. Keep in mind these presidents aren’t always the most highly paid at their institutions, as some coaches, administrators and professors can earn millions, too.
10. C.L. Max Nikias
College: University of Southern California, Los Angeles
2013-14 tuition & fees: $46,363
Nikias’s salary is the equivalent of 30.68 students’ tuition. The median ratio is 12.06.
9. John E. Sexton
College: New York University, New York City
2013-14 tuition & fees: $44,845
Sexton’s salary is the equivalent of 32.4 students’ tuition.
8. Marc Tessier-Levigne
College: Rockefeller University, New York City
2013-14 tuition & fees: N/A (offers only advanced research degrees, for which students receive stipends)
7. Ronald J. Daniels
College: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
2013-14 tuition & fees: $45,970
Daniels’s salary is the equivalent of 35.44 students’ tuition.
6. Scott S. Cowen
College: Tulane University, New Orleans
2013-14 tuition & fees: $46,930
Cowen’s salary is the equivalent of 34.82 students’ tuition. He was the president from 1998 through 2014.
5. Nicholas S. Zeppos
College: Vanderbilt University, Nashville
2013-14 tuition & fees: $43,368
Zeppos’s salary is the equivalent of 49.52 students’ tuition.
4. Richard M. Joel
College: Yeshiva University, New York City
2013-14 tuition & fees: $37,600
Joel’s salary is the equivalent of 66.59 students’ tuition.
3. Nido Qubein
College: High Point University, High Point, N.C.
2013-14 tuition & fees: $34,330
Qubein’s salary is the equivalent of 84.74 students’ tuition.
2. Amy Gutmann
College: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
2013-14 tuition & fees: $45,890
Gutmann’s salary is the equivalent of 66.81 students’ tuition.
1. Lee C. Bollinger
College: Columbia University, New York City
2013-14 tuition & fees: $47,511
Bollinger’s salary is the equivalent of 97.14 students’ tuition.
More on Student Loans:
- How Student Loans Can Impact Your Credit
- Can You Get Your Student Loans Forgiven?
- A Credit Guide for College Graduates