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Harvard says it will not take emergency coronavirus funds

April 22, 2020
The university says it will not apply to receive the $8.6 million that was allocated to the institution as part of a coronavirus emergency stimulus package.

After being scolded by President Trump and facing a growing backlash over its access to federal stimulus funds, Harvard University says it will not apply for the emergency relief.

The Boston Globe reports that Harvard joined two other elite universities, Stanford and Princeton, is opting out of the stimulus money.

In a statement Harvard said it was concerned “that the intense focus by politicians and others on Harvard in connection with this program may undermine participation in a relief effort that Congress created and the President signed into law for the purpose of helping students and institutions whose financial challenges in the coming months may be most severe. As a result of this, and the evolving guidance being issued around use of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, Harvard has decided not to seek or accept the funds allocated to it by statute.”

Harvard, with a $41 billion endowment, has received criticism over the potential use of taxpayer money to help wealthy schools cope with the financial toll of the coronavirus.

The pandemic has exacerbated financial problems at many colleges and universities.

The battle over which universities deserve federal stimulus money reached a fevered pitch Tuesday when President Trump lashed out at Harvard for tapping into the emergency money. It was in line to receive $8.6 million as part of the coronavirus stimulus package.

“They shouldn’t be taking it,” Trump said. "They have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess. And they’re going to pay back that money.”

At the time, the president appeared to be referring to money allocated to helping small businesses. Harvard did not apply for or receive any money tied to the small business assistance program. Instead, the university was allocated money from the fund aimed at helping higher education institutions and their students with the financial cost of the coronavirus.

The money is supposed to be split between students and the universities, but Harvard had said that it would use all $8.6 million for student assistance.

Other Ivy League schools are also in line to receive funds. Dartmouth College has been allocated $3.4 million, Brown University will receive $4.8 million, and Yale University $6.8 million, according to the data.

Stanford University was set to receive $7.4 million from a $14 billion fund set aside for colleges and universities and their students. In a statement, the university said that it was facing “significant financial pressures” but that the money could be better used to help smaller institutions. Stanford has an endowment of $28 billion.

The federal education department allocated stimulus money based on the number of students enrolled at an institution and the percentage of low-income students that a campus serves. The formula benefits large, public universities, but among higher education experts there was also growing concern that community colleges and institutions with more part-time, working students, didn’t get enough help.

Arizona State University is set to receive the most money, with $63.5 million in assistance.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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