Our endowment returns from March 1, 2008 through February 28, 2009 stand at a negative of about 26%. While we are disheartened by the loss to the endowment, we are pleased that our portfolio outperformed the S&P 500 Index, which lost about 43%.
We are currently working to complete recommendations for the 2009-2010 budget so that the Board can make its final decisions at its April meeting. To understand the implications of the economic downturn for the next year and the out-years, we have been modeling a series of budget scenarios that take into account possible changes in the major drivers of our budget. Specifically these drivers include tuition, financial aid, annual giving, the endowment, salaries and the operating budget.
It is clear that the extent of the economic downturn will continue to affect our endowment and our need for increased financial aid. In our work on the budget, we have been particularly sensitive to the impact our current decisions will have in two to three years; the final chart on this page estimates initial projections to endowment spending through 2013.