Harvard Changes Mind on That $8.7M

University reverses course on federal aid after criticism from Trump and others
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2020 12:24 AM CDT
Harvard Won't Accept $8.7M in Aid After All
In this Aug. 13, 2019, file photo, students walk past the statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

President Trump is getting his wish. Harvard University said Wednesday it would not accept $8.7 million in federal aid from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package. Stanford, Princeton, and Yale also announced they would not take the millions set aside for them, as scrutiny of the wealthy universities' acceptance of the funds increased. Harvard said in a statement that while the COVID-19 pandemic will cause significant financial issues for the school, it feared the "intense focus by politicians and others" would undermine the relief fund, which allocated $14 billion for colleges and universities. That amount was divvied up based on school size and how many students come from low-income backgrounds, the Guardian reports. Trump had said Harvard didn't need the aid since it has an endowment of nearly $40 billion, a concern that was echoed by others—even including some Harvard alums.

"While we understand any reallocation of these resources is a matter for the Department of Education, we hope that special consideration will be given to Massachusetts institutions that are struggling to serve their communities and meet the needs of their students through these difficult and challenging times," Harvard said in a statement that also noted it had never actually applied for the aid, MassLive reports. Also Wednesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called out schools that do not primarily serve low-income students, saying they "do not need or deserve" the funds. "Schools with large endowments should not apply for funds so more can be given to students who need support the most," she said. Politico notes the four schools that have now rejected the funds are the wealthiest in the US. Cornell and Notre Dame still plan to accept their funds; MIT and Duke are as yet undecided. Trump on Wednesday thanked the affluent schools that turned down the money. (Read more Harvard stories.)

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