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The 8 colleges producing the greatest number of multimillionaires

More than one-third of the wealthiest people in the U.S. attended one of just eight elite universities, according to a new study from wealth consultancy Henley & Partners. 

There are about 9,600 so-called centimillionaires living in the U.S., or people whose net worth is greater than $100 million, the report noted. About 35% of them attended one of eight U.S. universities: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Yale, Cornell and Princeton, the analysis found.

The report comes amid a battle over the future of admissions to America's top colleges, with the Supreme Court currently weighing affirmative action admissions programs. At the same time, many elite colleges are under fire for practices like legacy admissions, which give preference to children of alumni, with critics saying they reinforce wealth and privilege.

And acceptance rates to the top colleges and universities have continued to sink to new lows, with more applicants vying for a small number of seats. Last year, Harvard, for example, accepted 3.19% of applicants, the lowest fraction since it was founded 386 years ago.

About 1 in 4 of centimillionaires in the U.S. work in finance or professional services, representing the largest share by industry. But another roughly 1 in 7 earned their fortunes through the tech industry, a sector Henley & Partners predicts will generate more centimillionaires over the next decade.

To be sure, graduating from an Ivy League institution or an elite tech-based university such as MIT doesn't guarantee that an alum will become a centimillionaire, or even get a foothold in the middle class. But graduates of Ivy League colleges tend to earn considerably more than other college grads a decade after entering the workforce, raking in about $125,000 annually versus $82,000 for other bachelor's degree holders.

"Access to top-tier education is a premise of the world's wealthiest, who maximize their children's prospects to build greater inter-generational success and affluence," notes John Milne, group head of education services at Henley & Partners, in the report. 

The findings track the most recent degree earned by centimillionaires, which means that the report includes graduate school degrees such as MBAs, noted Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, who worked on the report. 

Some of the centimillionaires are people who have inherited money, while others are self-made, he noted. 

And the concentration of ultrawealthy graduates from a handful of elite schools is even greater in other nations, Amoils noted. For instance, in Egypt and South Africa, about 10% to 20% of the ultrawealthy attended one elite university. Compare that with the U.S., where 7% of the ultra-wealthy went to Harvard, he said. 

The concentration isn't as extreme in the U.S. due to the high number of colleges and universities within the nation, he added.

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