It wasn't the Great Recession, but the early investment returns coming in from America's most prestigious and deep-pocketed colleges indicate that fiscal 2016 will go down as one of the worst performance periods for endowments in recent memory.

An American City Business Journals analysis of endowment returns at 25 private, nonprofit schools with some of the largest investment portfolios in the country found that all but one — Boston University — saw a year-over-year decline in value. Cumulatively, those 25 endowments shed 4 percent, or $5.3 billion, of their value during the most-recent reporting period.

The ACBJ analysis included endowment data gleaned from each school's annual report for fiscal 2016, which for most institutions ended June 30. Many private colleges have yet to publish results from the most-recent fiscal period.

All of the schools analyzed had endowments of $1 billion or more at the beginning of fiscal 2016, with only one — Washington & Lee University in Virginia — having slipped below the $1 billion threshold when the year had ended. There are approximately 100 U.S. public and private colleges with endowments valued at $1 billion or more out of a universe of some 2,400 schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

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