For the average large university, the choice to divest could cost endowments between $1.4 billion and $7.4 billion, according to a report published in May by a professor at Arizona State University.
The study notes that the push to divest began in 2012, at the behest of radical environmentalist Bill McKibben; already, more than 500 religious institutions, public-pension funds, colleges and universities and other institutions have embraced his call to end investment in fossil fuels.
Colleges and universities have come under increased pressure to divest. A handful of community colleges and small private schools have already done so, and last month, the University of Massachusetts became the first major public university to announce full divestment from fossil fuels, a decision driven by student protests.
The new study suggests that such a decision will come at high cost. Activist students already grappling with college affordability would do well to consider where any ensuing shortfalls might be made up.