Harvard University said on Wednesday that it has decided “not to seek or accept” funds allocated to the institution under the federal coronavirus relief package after President Donald Trump criticized and questioned the elite institution’s need for financial assistance.
“Harvard did not apply for this support, nor has it requested, received or accessed these funds,” the university said in a statement.
As a result of “the intense focus by politicians and others on Harvard” and issues surrounding the use of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), the Ivy League institution said it will not be taking any stimulus money.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by Trump last month allocated Harvard with $8.6 million, according to a report from the Harvard Crimson. The funding was supposed to help higher education institutions cover fundamental expenses such as course materials, technology, food and housing.
However, Trump called out out large companies and private higher education institutions like Harvard for taking federal loans intended to assist small businesses.
“Harvard is going to pay back the money. And they shouldn’t be taking it,” Trump said during his evening news briefing on Tuesday. “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.”
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also issued a statement on Wednesday on the allocation of HEERF.
“Wealthy institutions that do not primarily serve low-income students do not need or deserve additional taxpayer funds. This is common sense. Schools with large endowments should not apply for funds so more can be given to students who need support the most,” DeVos said.
DeVos previously sent a letter to college and university presidents on April 9 advising them to give their allocation “to those institutions within your state or region that might have significant need.”
Harvard said it will inform the Department of Education of its decision and “encourage the department to act swiftly to reallocate resources previously allocated to Harvard.” It hopes that “special consideration will be given to Massachusetts institutions that are struggling to serve their communities,” the university added.