Meet the one percent of American colleges and universities [SLIDESHOW]

Most American colleges and universities are repositories of vast amounts of money, but some have built up endowments that border on the unbelievable.

When ranked by endowment per student, the top 10 colleges have more money at their disposal to spend on each student than most Americans will earn in their lifetimes.

And according to the Institute of Education Sciences, their total endowments compare favorably with the gross domestic products of several sovereign nations.

Click an image below for larger version.
  • Grinnell’s total balance of $1.26 billion outshines the $1.15 billion GDP of The Gambia, a coastal nation in West Africa known for seaside resorts and world-class bird watching. (Photo - Ikiwaner)
  • Grinnell College, an academically rigorous little school set amid Iowa cornfields, has $749,309 per student in its endowment.
  • The $1.39 billion Amherst has saved and invested would get the microstate Republic of San Marino through nearly a year. San Marino is surrounded entirely by Italy, full of rugged mountain terrain, and blessed with spectacular views. Its GDP is $1.44 billion.
  • MIT’s endowment is a 3 percent improvement on the GDP of the tropical-paradise nation of the Bahamas. But be honest: Would you rather spend the winter in New England or on one of 3,000 islands and cays famous for powdery sand and unblemished beaches?
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a world-renowned hub of science and technology, has an endowment big enough for $800,975 per student. It all adds up to $8.32 billion. Photo/Facebook - by Aram Boghosian for MIT News
  • By comparison, a tiny country in the Horn of Africa where you can chew khat (a mild narcotic) and enjoy blistering heat has a $1.24 billion GDP. That nation, Djibouti, is --- according to Olympic Games announcer Bob Costas --- one of "a few countries whose names simply make you smile."
  • Stanford’s total endowment, $13.85 billion, is on track to eclipse the GDP of Cambodia soon. That Southeast Asian nation is famous for soaring temples and, in the 1970s, horrific genocide.
  • Stanford University, the PAC-12 academic and recent football powerhouse near the heart of Silicon Valley has $904,179 for every enrolled man and woman.
  • Pomona’s endowment is just $10 million shy of the GDP of Belize, a small Central American country famous for coral reefs and picturesque Caribbean beaches.
  • Pomona College, one of five small undergraduate schools in the Claremont Consortium near Los Angeles, has $942,490 on its balance sheet for every student. It all adds up to $1.46 billion.
  • Olin’s total endowment is $335.6 million -- which is more than the $318.1 million GDP of the Federated States of Micronesia, a small collection of Pacific islands known for World War II wreck diving and, in one region, stone money.
  • The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, a tiny school in the suburbs of Boston, has a robust endowment of $1,096,595 per student.  Photo/Facebook -- by unknown Olin student
  • Harvard’s $27.56 billion endowment puts it on a par with Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf famous for oil, beaches and Formula One car racing. Bahrain’s entire GDP is $26.11 billion.
  • Harvard University, an Ivy League school in Massachusetts, has $1,304,492 tucked away for every enrolled student. And Harvard has a sizable student body.
  • The GDP of Gabon, a French-speaking nation on the west coast of Central Africa, is only $16.18 billion. (Photo - Global Photographer
  • Yale University, an Ivy League school in Connecticut, has a $1,436,384-per-student endowment. That’s a total of $16.65 billion.
  • Princeton’s endowment is equal to the GDP of Iceland, a sparsely populated island in the North Atlantic Ocean famous for hot springs and epic party scene.
  • Princeton University, an Ivy League school in New Jersey, has an endowment of $1,857,040 per student ($14.05 billion total).